Thread: In Perspective, Planet: Ehancing the brain!
View Single Post
Old October 20th, 2012, 02:42 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 35,164

Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
That is an interesting theory, but if it were true, people knowing for example English and French would learn Chinese or Russian easily. It is not quite so.
My experience is that kids with two languages under their belt have unique intellectual advantage. Also approach a 3rd language with far less barriers that just English speaking kids, as if they have special keys to get entrance to the new world. Actually, Jerome, there's data in that direction here with Russian, Hebrew and English.

Moreover, there's data to support the special brain processing and even anatomy changes going on in bilinguals.
  • Process: For example "reading words in a second language is influenced by the native language through automatic and very fast word translation in the bilingual brain" "Researchers in The University of Nottingham's School of Psychology set out to explore whether Chinese-English bilinguals translate English words automatically into Chinese without being aware of this process." When identifying words unrelated in English but related by the graphics of Chinese character, these were processed instantly, implying immediate unconscious classification of English words in the milieu of the Chinese mother tongue. Read more here. Also work at Penn State University, imply "cognitive advantages as multi-tasking," said Kroll, director of the Center for Language Science. "Bilinguals seem to be better at this type of perspective taking."

  • Brain Structure: Remarkably, intense immersive training in a new language actually grows the size of parts of the brain specific to spatial cognition and language ability. ""We were surprised that different parts of the brain developed to different degrees depending on how well the students performed and how much effort they had had to put in to keep up with the course," says Johan Mårtensson, a researcher in psychology at Lund University, Sweden.

    Students with greater growth in the hippocampus and areas of the cerebral cortex related to language learning (superior temporal gyrus) had better language skills than the other students. In students who had to put more effort into their learning, greater growth was seen in an area of the motor region of the cerebral cortex (middle frontal gyrus). The areas of the brain in which the changes take place are thus linked to how easy one finds it to learn a language and development varies according to performance.

Previous research from other groups has indicated that Alzheimer's disease has a later onset in bilingual or multilingual groups.

"Even if we cannot compare three months of intensive language study with a lifetime of being bilingual, there is a lot to suggest that learning languages is a good way to keep the brain in shape," says Johan Mårtensson."

Here's the deal, besides the language one gets, the brain is forced to be alert to more ways of looking at things with far better libraries of ideas, for that's what words are, each, in their native language being grown from their own sets of metaphors, links to poetry, parables and wisdom. Even color perception can be enhanced as the boundaries of our distinction of separate colors depends on our cultures. so we are not only enriched for language, but also have new dimensions in appreciation of so many other things we may not be aware of. With each new language one is also receiving more than text, meaning and syntax. Along with the obvious advantages of speaking to people in their native tongue, one also gets to mine their culture. One receives, gratis, the inheritance of 50,000 years of that cultures unique values, measures of things and insights as to how different matters relate to each other.

Besides, any chance of staving of Alzheimer's dementia would alone be a good reason for being multilingual! Hmm! I think with my current status, I'd better add another language ASAP!

Follow us on Twitter at @opfweb

Our purpose is getting to an impressive photograph. So we encourage browsing and then feedback. Consider a link to your galleries annotated, C&C welcomed. Images posted within OPF are assumed to be for Comment & Critique, unless otherwise designated.
Reply With Quote