What Are The Cognitive Benefits Of A Bilingual Brain?
The following TED-Ed video infographic highlights some important benefits that thinking bilingually can bestow upon your brain.
Here are a few cognitive advantages that result from being bilingual:
- Higher density of the grey matter that contains most of your brain’s neurons and synapses (= increased processing speed).
- More activity in certain regions of the brain when engaging a second language.
- Possible delay of diseases (by as much as five years) such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia, as a result of the workout a bilingual brain receives on a continuous basis.
- Effort and attention needed to switch between languages triggers more activity and strengthening of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that is in charge of problem-solving, switching between tasks, and focusing while filtering out extraneous information.
You may ask, “I was not raised bilingual, so why should I care about these benefits?”
Thankfully, these benefits aren’t only applicable to those who are raised bilingual.
Rather, they are a result of a regular and dedicated brain workout – that of thinking in and using different languages regularly.
Therefore, if you make a concerted effort to learn, live and breathe a second language, you will be a beneficiary of the above advantages in the long-term. What are you waiting for?
The video also gives a brief overview of the Critical Period Hypothesis, which we’ve dealt with in an earlier post.
And TED-Ed provides us with additional resources on the topic:
- Northwestern University: Bilingual Brains Equipped Better Equipped To Process Information
- Radiolab: Mapping The Bilingual Brain
- François Grosjean: Myths About Multilingualism
- NPR: New Study Shows Brain Benefits Of Bilingualism
- BrainFacts: The Bilingual Brain
- DNews: Bilingual Brains Are Better