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The Cognitive and Brain Fitness Benefits of Being Bilingual

The Cog­ni­tive Ben­e­fits of Being Bilin­gual (Cere­brum):

Today, more of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is bilin­gual or mul­ti­lin­gual than mono­lin­gual. In addi­tion to facil­i­tat­ing cross-cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion, this trend also pos­i­tive­ly affects cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. Researchers have shown that the bilin­gual brain can have bet­ter atten­tion and task-switch­ing capac­i­ties than the mono­lin­gual brain, thanks to its devel­oped abil­i­ty to inhib­it one lan­guage while using anoth­er. In addi­tion, bilin­gual­ism has pos­i­tive effects at both ends of the age spec­trum: Bilin­gual chil­dren as young as sev­en months can bet­ter adjust to envi­ron­men­tal changes, while bilin­gual seniors can expe­ri­ence less cog­ni­tive decline…Even in the Unit­ed States, which is wide­ly con­sid­ered to be mono­lin­gual, one-fifth of those over the age of five report­ed speak­ing a lan­guage oth­er than Eng­lish at home in 2007, an increase of 140 per­cent since 1980…To main­tain the rel­a­tive bal­ance between two lan­guages, the bilin­gual brain relies on exec­u­tive func­tions, a reg­u­la­to­ry sys­tem of gen­er­al cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties that includes process­es such as atten­tion and inhi­bi­tion. Because both of a bilin­gual person’s lan­guage sys­tems are always active and com­pet­ing, that per­son uses these con­trol mech­a­nisms every time she or he speaks or lis­tens. This con­stant prac­tice strength­ens the con­trol mech­a­nisms and changes the asso­ci­at­ed brain regions.”

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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