Bilingual brains stay sharp longer

In study, Bilin­gual brains stay sharp longer

We have seen a num­ber of stud­ies on why and how speak­ing more than one lan­guage may help build a Cog­ni­tive Reserve (inter­view with Yaakov Stern) that pro­tects us against cog­ni­tive decline. This arti­cle does a good job at explain­ing what may be going on (bold added by me):

- Bia­lystok, who began study­ing bilin­gual kids decades ago, believes one key to their spe­cial brain­pow­er lies in the way they must con­stant­ly decide which lan­guage to use and which to sup­press.

- For peo­ple who use two lan­guages dai­ly, “every time you want to speak one lan­guage, the oth­er lan­guage is acti­vat­ed” in the brain as well, she said. “That means you need a mech­a­nism so that you’re only draw­ing from the right pool (of words). It’s going be a mech­a­nism that works extreme­ly fast … while you’re pro­duc­ing sen­tences. It’s way below your radar for detect­ing what’s happening.”

- So bilin­guals get far more prac­tice than mono­lin­guals in using the part of the brain that focus­es our atten­tion, help­ing us sort through con­flict­ing infor­ma­tion and ignore dis­trac­tions. Using two lan­guages seems to bol­ster rapid deci­sion-mak­ing, mul­ti-task­ing and per­haps memory.

In short: learn­ing and speak­ing a for­eign lan­guage pro­vides con­stant brain exer­cise to the frontal lobes (see basic brain anato­my), the area of the brain right behind your fore­head that focus­es our atten­tion, helps us ignore dis­trac­tions, and make decisions.

Have a nice East­er time.

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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