Gigi Luk's research on the cognitive consequences of bilingualism extends across the lifespan. These cognitive consequences include literacy acquisition in children and executive functions in young and older adults. The main research finding is that bilingualism, as a language experience, results in some cognitive advantages and linguistic limitations at different developmental stages. She investigates bilingual consequences using both behavioral and neuroimaging techniques.
For children in particular, these bilingual consequences entail cognitive and educational implications. At the other end of the developmental stage, older adults with lifelong bilingual experience show better-maintained brain structure and altered brain functional connectivity. Critically, the improved brain health enjoyed by the bilingual older adults may be a form of cognitive reserve that has important implications in public policy in health and education. With the growing bilingual population, it is important to understand how bilingualism, as a life experience, changes our mind and brain.
Dr. Luk obtained her Ph. D. in Cognitive Psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Center in Toronto. She has joined the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011.
For more information about ongoing projects, please visit Brain.Experience.Education Lab.