Gigi Luk

Academic title(s): 

Associate Professor

Gigi Luk
Contact Information
Email address: 
gigi.luk [at]
Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology

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

Areas of expertise: 

Cognitive development


Language development 

Literacy acquisition 


Lifespan development 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Functional and structural neural networks

Office hours: 

By appointment.

Current research: 

Dr. Luk current research investigates:

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? 

3. What are the neural mechanisms underlying learning new information that are modulated by language experience?


Awards, honours, and fellowships: 

National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013-2014)

Graduate supervision: 

Human Development

Dr. Luk is currently accepting applications at the MA level. 

Selected publications: 

* Graduate student or postdoctoral researcher as co-author

Leon Guerrero, S.*, & Luk, G. (in press). Synergetic themes in cognitive and sociocultural bilingualism research: Moving towards a transdisciplinary approach. In L. Sánchez, E. Bauer, & Y. Wang (eds.) Enhancing Bilingual Education: A Transdisciplinary Lens for Improving Learning in Bilingual Contexts. Routledge.

Partika, A.*, Johnson, A. D., Phillips, D. A., Luk, G., Derricks, A. & The Tulsa SEED Study Team (accepted). Dual language supports for dual language learners? Exploring preschool classroom instructional supports for DLLs’ early learning outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

Smith, S. A.*, Leon Guerrero, S.*, Surrain, S.*, & Luk, G. (in press). Phonetic discrimination, phonological awareness, and pre-literacy skills in Spanish-English dual language preschoolers. Journal of Child Language.

Luk, G., Mesite, L.*, & Leon Guerrero, S.* (2020). Onset age of second language acquisition and fractional anisotropy variation in multilingual young adults. Journal of Neurolinguistics.

Macdonald, D.*, Luk, G., Quintin, E.-M. (2020). Early word reading and preschoolers with ASD, both with and without Hyperlexia, Compared to Typically Developing Preschoolers. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Luk, G., Pliatsikas, C., & Rossi, E. (2020). Brain changes associated with language development and learning: A primer on methodology and applications. System, 89.

Reilly, S.*, Johnson, A., Luk, G. & Partika, A.* (2019). Head Start classroom features and language and literacy growth among children with diverse language backgrounds. Early Education and Development.

Byers-Heinlein, K., Esposito, A. G., Winsler, A., Marian, V., Castro, D. C., & Luk, G. (2019). The case for measuring and reporting bilingualism in developmental research. Collabra: Psychology, 5(1): 37. DOI:

Surrain, S.* & Luk, G. (2019). Describing bilinguals: A systematic review of labels and descriptors used in the literature between 2005-2015. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 22, 401-415. DOI:

Anderson, J. A., Chung, A. F.-Y., Bellana, B., Luk, G., & Bialystok, E. (2018). Language and cognitive networks in bilinguals and monolinguals. Neuropsychologia, 117, 352-363. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.06.023

Luk, G. & Kroll, J. (2019). Bilingualism and Education. In J. Dunlosky & K. Rawson (eds.) Cambridge Handbook of Cognition and Education, pp. 292-319. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/9781108235631.013

Whitford, V.*, & Luk, G. (2019). Comparing executive functions in monolinguals and bilinguals: Considerations on participant characteristics and statistical assumptions in current research. In I. Sekerina, V. Valian, & L. Spradlin (eds.) Bilingualism, Executive Function, and Beyond: Questions and Insights, pp. 67-79. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.

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.

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.

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:

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 


Professional activities: 

Associate Editor for Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (2016-present)

Editorial board members for International Journal of Behavioral Development (2016 - present), AERA Open (2015 - present), Journal of Educational Psychology (2020-present)

Program committee for Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD, 2019-2025)

Research Advisory Council on Multilingual Learners, Massachusetts Department of Education (2017 - 2018)

Education Panel, Research Grants Council, Hong Kong (2013 - present)



Selected talks and presentations: 

Upcoming conferences: SRCD 2021 (Virutal), ISB13 (Virtual)

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

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