Gigi Luk's research on the cognitive and neural consequences of bilingualism extends across the lifespan. She leads a research program that examines how diverse language experiences shapes development and learning. Using neuroimaging and behavioral methods, Luk studies bilingualism as an interactional experience that shapes cognition. In addition to investigating the science of bilingualism, Luk has examined how to harness scientific findings on bilingualism to improve educational experience for children from diverse language backgrounds. In particular, she has established a research program investigating: (1) effective ways to examine bilingualism and learning; (2) how bilingualism and executive functions interact to influence literacy outcomes; and (3) brain mechanisms underlying learning new information in children and adults. Luk obtained her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from York University, Canada in 2008. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Center before joining the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011. In January 2019, she join the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Center
Ph.D., Developmental and Cognitive Processes, York University
M.A., Developmental and Cognitive Processes, York University
Sp. Hon. B. A., Psychology, York University
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Functional and structural neural networks
Dr. Luk is currently establishing her lab at ECP. She plans to focus her research on three topics:
1. How does contextual factors in the environment, such as social perception of bilingualism, language immersion experience, and music experience shape language acquisition and cognitive development?
2. What is the relationship between language and reading comprehension in bilingual children who are biliterate or only able to read in one language?
3. What are the neural mechanisms underlying learning new information that are modulated by language experience?
National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013-2014)
Dr. Luk is currently accepting applications at the graduate level.
* Graduate student co-author
Anderson, J. A., Chung, A. F.-Y., Bellana, B., Luk, G., & Bialystok, E. (in press). Language and cognitive networks in bilinguals and monolinguals. Neuropsychologia.
Luk, G. & Kroll, J. (in press). Bilingualism and Education. To appear in J. Dunlosky & K. Rawson (eds.) Cambridge Handbook of Cognition and Education.
Whitford, V.#, & Luk, G. (in press). Comparing Executive Functions in Monolinguals and Bilinguals: Considerations on Participant Characteristics and Statistical Assumptions in Current Research. To appear in I. Sekerina, V. Valian, & L. Spradlin (eds.) Studies in Bilingualism.
Yamasaki, B.* & Luk, G. (2018). Eligibility of special education in elementary school: The role of diverse language experiences. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 49(4), 889–901. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_LSHSS-DYSLC-18-0006
Luk, G. (2017). Bilingualism. In B. Hopkins, E. Geangu, & S. Linkenauger (eds.) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development, 2nd ed. (pp. 385-391). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316216491.062
Surrain, S.* & Luk, G. (2017). Describing bilinguals: A systematic review of labels and descriptors used in the literature between 2005-2015. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728917000682
Luk, G. & Pliatsikas, C. (2016). Converging diversity to unity: Commentary on the neuroanatomy of bilingualism. Language, Cognition, & Neuroscience, 31, 349-352.
Pliatsikas, C., & Luk, G. (2016). Executive control in bilinguals: A concise review on fMRI studies. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 19, 699-705. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1366728916000249
Guerrero, S. L.*, Smith, S., & Luk, G. (2016). Home language usage and executive function in bilingual preschoolers. In J. W. Schwieter (ed.) Cognitive Control and Consequences of Multilingualism. (pp. 351-374). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. DOI: 10.1075/bpa.2.15leo
For a list of publications, please visit, the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Associate Editor for Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (2016-present)
Editorial board members for International Journal of Behavioral Development (2016 - present), Studies in Bilingualism (2015 - present), AERA Open (2015 - present)
Research Advisory Council on Multilingual Learners, Massachusetts Department of Education (2017 - present)
Education Panel, Research Grants Council, Hong Kong (2013 - present)
Upcoming conferences: SRCD 2019 (Baltimore, Maryland), ISB12 (Edmonton, Alberta), 26th SSSR (Toronto, Ontario)
Luk, G. (2018, October). The Neuroscience of Early Childhood Development. Early Childhood Development Agency. Keynote speaker. Singapore.
Luk, G. (2018, June). Neural Networks Associated with Learning in Bilinguals. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Luk, G. (2018, March). Language and Cognitive Development of Children in Brazil: Salvador and Natal. Brazil Studies Program Seminar Series, Cambridge, MA
Luk, G. (2018, January). Recognizing the Value of Language Diversity in Education through Cognitive Neuroscience. University of California Riverside, Riverside, US.
Luk, G. (2017, December). Young Children’s Linguistic Talent: What Adults Can Do To Cultivate Bilingualism, Development, and Learning? International Conference on Bilingualism: Language & Heritage. Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
Luk, G. (2017, October). Who is a bilingual (or a monolingual)? Insights from Research and Education. Invited speaker at the Boston University Speech, Language, and Hearing Colloquium series. Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Luk, G. (2017, August). Structural and Functional Plasticity Associated with Learning in Bilinguals. EuroSLA Language Learning Roundtable. University of Reading, Reading, UK.
Luk, G. (2016, November). The Science of Bilingualism and its Implications on Development and Learning. Education, Culture, Cognition and Society, Université du Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
Luk, G. (2016, November). The Science of Bilingualism: An Experience that Shapes our Mind and Brain. English Language Institute, University of Jeddah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Luk, G. (2015, December). Bilingualism as a transdisciplinary field: What are the next questions? Special Distinguished Language Science Colloquium, Center for Language Science, Penn State University, State College, PA, USA.
Luk, G. (2015, May). Bilingualism as a life experience: Language usage, cognition and neural networks. Symposium on Bilingualism, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Canada