Here’s How Being Bilingual Rewires Your Brain!

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You’re lucky if you grew up with two languages. It’s a well known fact that being bilingual has cognitive benefits, but scientists have recently found out that there’s more than just cognitive benefits. In fact, being bilingual can fundamentally change the structure of your brain! Here’s how.

Source: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/h...

Mastering two languages can alter the structure of the brain.

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In other words, being bilingual rewires the brain to work differently than the brains of those who only speak one language.

“Bilinguals are a really a model of cognitive control”

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Cognitive scientist Judith F. Kroll of Pennsylvania State University says that bilinguals are able to both hold two languages in their head and expertly switch between them at the right times.

According to Kroll and her research team, the two languages are always “on” in the brains of bilinguals.

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In other words, their brains are continually processing information in both languages.

The mental struggle of selecting and switching between two languages actually helps reshape the brain’s networks, according to Kroll.

One study looked at four-month old, eight-month old, and one-year old infants—60 of whom were bilingual and 60 monolingual. As they grew older, infants who were exposed to both Spanish and Catalan started looking at speakers’ mouths instead of their eyes when listening to someone talk.

As they grew older, infants who were exposed to both Spanish and Catalan started looking at speakers’ mouths instead of their eyes when listening to someone talk.

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Kroll argues that this study is a great example of how being bilingual can improve speakers’ cognitive abilities.

“Babies who are listening to two languages [growing up] become attuned to those two languages right away,” said Kroll. “It’s not confusing them or messing them up developmentally—the opposite is true.”

In the chart below, you can see the percentages of bilingual people among general public in European countries.

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