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PIRE I: Understanding the Bilingual Mind and Brain

PIRE I: Bilingualism, mind, and brain: An interdisciplinary program in cognitive psychology, linguistics, and cognitive neuroscience

Research Network 

PIRE Faculty


Philip Baldi              

Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Classics 

Matthew Carlson

Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics

Paola (Giuli) Dussias  

Professor of Spanish, Linguistics and Psychology; Head, Spanish

Henry (Chip) Gerfen 

Professor and Department Chair, World Languages & Cultures 

Carrie Jackson

Associate Professor of German and Linguistics

Judith Kroll

Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Linguistics, and Women's Studies

Ping Li

Professor of Psychology and Linguistics

John Lipski 

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Spanish & Linguistics; Director, Program in Linguistics

Carol Miller

Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Linguistics

Karen Miller

Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics

Marianna Nadeu

Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics

Richard Page 

Associate Professor of German and Linguistics; Head, German Department 

Michael T. Putnam

Associate Professor of German and Linguistics

Rena Torres Cacoullos

Professor of Spanish and Linguistics

Janet Van Hell

Professor of Psychology and Linguistics

Daniel Weiss 

Associate Professor of Psychology 

International Partners 


Department Affiliation


University of Granada

Teresa Bajo


The Netherlands

Radboud University Nijmegen

Dorothee Chwilla

Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior


Pompeu Fabra University

Albert Costa

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Universitat Rovira i Virgili 

Josep Demestre


United Kingdom

Bangor University

Margaret Deuchar                



 Lund University

Marianne Gullberg



University of Braunschweig

(formerly at University of Mannheim)

Holger Hopp

English Linguistics


Max Planck Institute, Leipzig 

Sonja Kotz 


United Kingdom

Bangor University 

Guillaume Thierry

Cognitive Neuroscience



Beijing Normal University

Taomei Guo



Beijing Normal University

Hua Shu

Cognitive Nueroscience


University of Hong Kong

Li Hai Tan

Linguistics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences


University of Hong Kong

Brendan Weeks

Communication Science and Education


Domestic Partners

Department Affiliation

Gallaudet University                        

Thomas Allen                                

Educational Neuroscience

Haskins Laboratories 

Ken Pugh                   

Haskins Laboratories

University of New Mexico 

Jill Morford



Principles that play an important role in PIRE I 

Common Ground Model 

Our PIRE I project has implemented the Common Ground Model to investigate the consequence of having multiple languages exist within the same mind and brain. Our research has employed bilingual language experience as a tool to investigate universal principles of learning and cognition and their neural underpinnings. In past work, we have shown that the presence of a second language (L2) and contact across two languages in bilingual populations fundamentally changes language learning, representation, and processing.

Comparative Research 

PIRE I has combined the power of comparative research across multiple language pairings (English, German, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese) with insights of research on bilingualism, adopts across-disciplinary approach by integrating research methodologies (e.g., fMRI, ERP, modeling) from linguistics, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience, and examines subject populations of different ages and in different modalities (children, adults, and deaf signers). Cross-linguistic research has examined the consequences of distinct linguistic forms across native speakers of languages that differ in structure and aspects of language use. Bilingual research examined these consequences when the two languages exist in one and the same mind.

Research Themes 

Competition and convergence across two grammatical systems 

Tow lines of research, one with proficient bilinguals, and one with L2 learners, has examined the way in which grammatical forms are acquired and used in an L2 and the way in which proficient bilinguals resolve potential conflicts when the grammars of the L1 and L2 conflict. 

Computational and neurocognitive studies of second language learning

Why is it so much easier for children than for adults to acquire a second language? What are the cognitive and neural underpinnings for this difference? We have addressed these issues from a variety of perspectives, with bot computational and neurocognitive approaches. 

Cross-language interactions and their cognitive consequences.

A discovery about L2 learning, to which our team has contributed, is that it is virtually impossible for bilinguals to completely switch off one language when using the other. It was once believed that this was true only during early stages of L2 learning, when the L1 is highly active. This research demonstrates that both languages are active for even proficient bilinguals, suggesting that although the nature of cross-language competition may change with developing L2 skill, the lexicon and grammar of the two languages produce mutual influences. These influences also modulate the way in which the native language is used, so that bilinguals differ from monolinguals in both languages.