Mind, Technology, and Society Talk Series

Judith F. Kroll
Department of Psychology
Program in Linguistics
Center for Language Science
The Pennsylvania State University
After July 1, 2016:
Department of Psychology
University of California, Riverside

3-4:30 p.m. Monday, February 29, 2016


Bilingualism, mind, and brain

The use of two or more languages is common in most places in the world.  Yet, until recently, bilingualism was considered to be a complicating factor for language processing, cognition, and the brain. In the past 20 years, there has been an upsurge of research that examines the cognitive and neural bases of second language learning and bilingualism and the resulting consequences for cognition and for brain structure and function over the lifespan. Contrary to the view that bilingualism adds complication to the language system, the new research demonstrates that all languages that are known and used become part of the same language system. A critical insight is that bilingualism provides a tool for examining aspects of the cognitive architecture that are otherwise obscured by the skill associated with native language performance in monolingual speakers. In this talk, I illustrate this approach to language processing and consider the consequences that bilingualism holds for cognition more generally.

Judith F. Kroll is Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Linguistics, and Women’s Studies and former director of the Center
for Language Science at Pennsylvania State University. She completed her undergraduate degree at New York University and
graduate degrees at Brandeis University. She held faculty positions at Swarthmore College, Rutgers University, and Mount
Holyoke College before joining the Penn State faculty in 1994. The research that she and her students conduct concerns the way that bilinguals juggle the presence of two languages in one mind and brain. Their work, supported by grants from NSF and
NIH, shows that bilingualism provides a tool for revealing the interplay between language and cognition that is otherwise
obscure in speakers of one language alone. She is a Fellow of the AAAS, the APA, the APS, the Psychonomic Society, and the
Society of Experimental Psychologists. She was one of the founding editors of the journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge University Press), and one of the founding organizers of Women in Cognitive Science, a group developed to promote the advancement of women in the cognitive sciences and supported by NSF (http://womenincogsci.org/).