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Study: Mastering a new language can promote neural flexibility and increase learning speed

language learningEEG record­ings prove learn­ing for­eign lan­guages can sharp­en our minds (Sci­ence Dai­ly):

Sci­en­tists from the High­er School of Eco­nom­ics (HSE) togeth­er with col­leagues from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Helsin­ki have dis­cov­ered that learn­ing for­eign lan­guages enhances the our brain’s elas­tic­i­ty and its abil­i­ty to code infor­ma­tion…The exper­i­ment has shown that the brain’s elec­tri­cal activ­i­ty of those par­tic­i­pants who had already known some for­eign lan­guages, was high­er. The author of the study, Yuriy Shty­rov com­ment­ed that the more lan­guages some­one mas­tered, the faster the neu­ron net­work cod­ing the infor­ma­tion on the new words was formed. Con­se­quent­ly, this new data stim­u­lates the brain’s phys­i­ol­o­gy: load­ing the mind with more knowl­edge boosts its elas­tic­i­ty.”

Study: Indi­vid­ual lan­guage expe­ri­ence mod­u­lates rapid for­ma­tion of cor­ti­cal mem­o­ry cir­cuits for nov­el words (Sci­en­tif­ic Reports)

  • Abstract: Mas­ter­ing mul­ti­ple lan­guages is an increas­ing­ly impor­tant abil­i­ty in the mod­ern world; fur­ther­more, mul­ti­lin­gual­ism may affect human learn­ing abil­i­ties. Here, we test how the brain’s capac­i­ty to rapid­ly form new rep­re­sen­ta­tions for spo­ken words is affect­ed by pri­or indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ence in non-native lan­guage acqui­si­tion. For­ma­tion of new word mem­o­ry traces is reflect­ed in a neu­ro­phys­i­o­log­i­cal response increase dur­ing a short expo­sure to nov­el lex­i­con. There­fore, we record­ed changes in elec­tro­phys­i­o­log­i­cal respons­es to phono­log­i­cal­ly native and non-native nov­el word-forms dur­ing a per­cep­tu­al learn­ing ses­sion, in which nov­el stim­uli were repet­i­tive­ly pre­sent­ed to healthy adults in either ignore or attend con­di­tions. We found that larg­er num­ber of pre­vi­ous­ly acquired lan­guages and ear­li­er aver­age age of acqui­si­tion (AoA) pre­dict­ed greater response increase to nov­el non-native word-forms. This sug­gests that ear­ly and exten­sive lan­guage expe­ri­ence is asso­ci­at­ed with greater neur­al flex­i­bil­i­ty for acquir­ing nov­el words with unfa­mil­iar phonol­o­gy. Con­verse­ly, lat­er AoA was asso­ci­at­ed with a stronger response increase for phono­log­i­cal­ly native nov­el word-forms, indi­cat­ing bet­ter tun­ing of neur­al lin­guis­tic cir­cuits to native phonol­o­gy. The results sug­gest that indi­vid­ual lan­guage expe­ri­ence has a strong effect on the neur­al mech­a­nisms of word learn­ing, and that it inter­acts with the phono­log­i­cal famil­iar­i­ty of the nov­el lex­i­con.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning

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