How bilingualism could benefit the brain
by Christian Arno
February 20th, 2013
A fascinating study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found a connection between faster mental reactions and speaking two or more languages. They found that people who were raised bilingual may have brains that work more efficiently. As they age, their linguistic abilities could help delay a decline in brain power.
In another study, researchers at Northwestern University, in Chicago, found that bilingual student volunteers found it easier to filter out distracting sounds and concentrate on a speaker. They suggested this is because their brains are used to suppressing the language they’re not using at the time.
It appears that knowing more than one language might have more benefits than we thought. Around 20 per cent of the US population is bilingual, with the most commonly spoken languages after English being Spanish, Chinese, French, and Tagalog. The percentage of bilingual Americans is rising, from around 11 per cent in 1980, although it’s still lower than Canada’s 35 per cent figure.
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