As I’ve written before, I’m interested to find out whether regularly using computer programming languages change the brain in the same way that being bilingual does. The good news is that I’ve now had ethics approval to run a small experiment to find out – and I’m looking for children, teenagers and adults to take part.

First up, I’m looking for three small groups of developers, ideally London-ish-based (because I don’t have any funding and I’m a student so massive train fares aren’t really an option):

  • 8 – 11 year olds who have been programming regularly for at least 6 months
  • 14 – 16 year olds who have been programming regularly for 3 – 6 years
  • 21 – 25 year old professional programmers who have been programming for at least 8 years and programme at least 5 days a week

Unfortunately, if you are bilingual – in that you speak two or more languages most days, for example, a different language at home than at school or work – you can’t take part in the study. This is because we already know that the effect we are looking for is found in bilinguals – so if we found it in you, we wouldn’t know whether this was because you programme computers or because you are bilingual (or both!).

To sign up as a developer, please read this information sheet about the project and sign up here (or if you are under 18, please get a parent or guardian to do so on your behalf). Massive thanks to Josh and Emma at Young Rewired State for helping me to contact young coders (they’re fundraising at the moment, you should help if you can!).

Secondly, I am looking for control group participants who are not computer programmers and am not bilingual. If you are an education professional or someone else who can help me to access a group of children aged 8-11 and or 14-16 in London, I’d love to hear from you – you could leave a comment or mail me here: hwright04 AT ioe.ac.uk.

I’m pretty excited that this is actually happening, thank you to everyone who has helped so far (especially Paul, Duncan and Alex for letting me pick their rather substantial brains). As always if anyone has any suggestions about papers I should read or people I should talk to, I’m all ears.

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