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Bilingualism Can Change Brain in Positive Ways

Bilingualism Can Change Brain in Positive Ways

New research finds that bilingualism is associated with brain rewiring, a characteristic that can has many positive attributes.

“Recent studies reveal the remarkable ways in which bilingualism changes the brain networks that enable skilled cognition, support fluent language performance, and facilitate new learning,” said Dr. Judith F. Kroll, a Pennsylvania State Distinguished Professor in psychology, linguistics, and women’s studies.

Researchers discovered that the brain structures and networks of bilinguals are different from those of monolinguals. Among other things, the changes help bilinguals to speak in the intended language — not to mistakenly speak in the “wrong” language.

And just as humans are not all the same, bilinguals are not all the same and the changes in the mind and brain differ depending on how the individual learned the language, what the two languages are, and the context the languages are used in.

“What we know from recent research is that at every level of language processing, from words to grammar to speech, we see the presence of cross-language interaction and competition,” said Kroll.

“Sometimes we see these cross-language interactions in behavior, but sometimes we only see them in brain data.”

Kroll presented recent findings about how bilinguals learn and use language in ways that change their minds and brains at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Researchers found that both languages are active at all times in bilinguals; meaning the individuals cannot easily turn off either language and the languages are in competition with one another. In turn this causes bilinguals to juggle the two languages, reshaping the network in the brain that supports each.

“The consequences of bilingualism are not limited to language but reflect a reorganization of brain networks that hold implications for the ways in which bilinguals negotiate cognitive competition more generally,” said Kroll.

Source: Pennsylvania State
 
Abstract of the brain photo by shutterstock.

Bilingualism Can Change Brain in Positive Ways

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Bilingualism Can Change Brain in Positive Ways. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/02/15/bilingualism-can-change-brain-in-positive-ways/99143.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Feb 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Feb 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.