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

Luk, G. (2022). Justice and equity for whom? Reframing research on the “bilingual (dis)advantage.” Applied Psycholinguistics, 1–15.

*Kirby, A. L., *Dahbi, M., Surrain, S., Rowe, M. L., & Luk, G. (2022). Music Uses in Preschool Classrooms in the U.S.: A Multiple-Methods Study. Early Childhood Education Journal.

Luk, G., & Grundy, J. G. (2022). The Importance of Recognizing Social Contexts in Research on Bilingualism. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1–3.

Luk, G., & Rothman, J. (2022). Experience-based individual differences modulate language, mind and brain outcomes in multilinguals. Brain and Language, 228, 105107.

*Macdonald, D., Luk, G., & Quintin, E.-M. (2022). Early Reading Comprehension Intervention for Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Hyperlexia. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 52(4), 1652–1672.

Mancilla-Martinez, J., *Oh, M. H., Luk, G., & Rollins, A. (2022). Language and Special Education Status: 2009–2019 Tennessee Trends. Educational Researcher, 0013189X221077208.

*Oh, J. H. J., Bertone, A., & Luk, G. (2022). Multilingual experience and executive functions among children and adolescents in a multilingual city. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 0(0), 1–15.

Rowe, M. L., *Kirby, A. L., *Dahbi, M., & Luk, G. (2022). Promoting Language and Literacy Skills through Music in Early Childhood Classrooms. The Reading Teacher, trtr.2155.

*Smith, S. A., *Leon Guerrero, S., *Surrain, S., & Luk, G. (2022). Phonetic discrimination, phonological awareness, and pre-literacy skills in Spanish–English dual language preschoolers. Journal of Child Language, 49(1), 80–113.

*Leon Guerrero, S., & Luk, G. (2021). Synergetic Themes in Cognitive and Sociocultural Bilingualism Research: Moving Towards a Transdisciplinary Approach. In L. Sánchez, E. Bauer, & Y. Ugawa (Eds.), Enhancing Bilingual Education: A Transdisciplinary Lens for Improving Learning in Bilingual Contexts. Routledge.

*Partika, A., Johnson, A. D., Phillips, D. A., Luk, G., & Dericks, A. (2021). Dual language supports for dual language learners? Exploring preschool classroom instructional supports for DLLs’ early learning outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 56, 124–138.

For a list of publications, please visit 



Professional activities: 

Associate Editor for Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (2016-2021)

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)

Program co-chair for the SRCD 2023 Biennial

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



Selected talks and presentations: 

Luk, G. (2022, August 4-5). The many faces of multilingualism in development and learning. Plenary speaker at the 4th International Symposium on Bilingual and L2 Processing in Adults and Children, Tromsø, Norway.  

Luk, G. (2022, June 1). Embracing Language Diversity in Schools and Societies. Plenary speaker at the Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference 2022, National Institute of Education, Singapore. Delivered online. 

Luk, G. (2022, March 26). Shifting the discourse from deficit to difference: Understanding the cognitive neuroscience of learning in multilingual learners. Bilingualism Matters, University of South Carolina. Delivered online. 

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