2 languages make your brain buff
February 18th, 2011
01:44 PM ET

2 languages make your brain buff

If you had any doubts about exposing your child - or yourself - to a foreign language, there's more evidence than ever that being bilingual has enormous benefits for your brain.

Scientists presented their research supporting this idea Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science  annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

As the human body begins its natural decline in old age, bilinguals seem to maintain better cognitive function, said Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto, Ontario. This is the case even for people with dementia. Bialystok and colleagues have studied many Alzheimer's patients, both monolinguals and bilinguals. They found that bilinguals were on average four to five years older than monolinguals at comparable points of neurological impairment.

Once Alzheimer's disease begins to compromise the brain, it appears that bilinguals can continue to function even though there’s damaged tissue, she said.

So what's going on? One theory is that language learning is an example of "cognitive reserve." It something that keeps the mind active in the same way as puzzles and games do, and works toward compensating for the build-up of dementia-causing pathology in the brain, Bialystok said.

In terms of starting language learning in middle or old age, the likelihood of becoming truly fluent in a new tongue is low, but it seems that every little bit helps in preventing cognitive decline, she said. And proficiency may be more important than age of acquisition, said Judith Kroll, researcher at Pennsylvania State University, before the conference.

Bilinguals are also better than monolinguals at multitasking, Kroll said. Juggling their languages helps bilinguals ignore irrelevant information and prioritize tasks better than those who only can only speak on tongue, she has found in her research. That makes sense considering that when a bilingual person speaks one language, the other language is still potentially active. That means that speakers of two languages are constantly inhibiting one language in favor of another, which perhaps enhances their overall attentional skills.

Why is it so hard for adults to learn a new language, compared with kids? The answer might not lie entirely in the brain. The social, educational, and other circumstantial conditions are different when an adult gets exposure to language, Bialystok said. As a child, learning a language is pretty much all you do. Adults can't devote as much time or attention to the experience of picking up a new tongue.

"It’s a change we can deal with as adults if there’s sufficient time and opportunity," she said.

Are there any downsides to being bilingual? Babies exposed to two languages throughout pregnancy, or who hear two languages in their first days of life, don’t confuse their languages, said Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia. The scientific evidence suggests bilingual and monolingual kids have similar language development milestones; it appears that children learning two languages do not experience delays in this regard generally.

There is, however, some research suggesting that the competition that’s produced by this mental juggling may introduce a delay in processing. But it’s so small that it’s not something that would be noticeable consciously, Kroll said. It appears that the benefits of being bilingual outweigh the costs.

What are you waiting for? Check out these resources for learning a new language online.

soundoff (466 Responses)
  1. ClarkTauts

    5yfuv op2kg v9ko

    February 28, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. ClarkTauts

    3aswx 9uvnr j5bi

    February 28, 2021 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. ClarkTauts

    1ybup e1nql x67c

    March 1, 2021 at 08:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Camila Locsin

    Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?


    March 2, 2021 at 03:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Brantkia

    Thailand is top target to the

    THAILAND topped the list for Irish globetrotters in the niche exotic market in 2010. India and Vietnam accompanied closely behind, Making east Asia and India firm favourites for the "running Irish" yr after, within the caribbean Medical Bureau said.

    Brazil came fourth on its list of top selling destinations for Irish Thai dating people seeking inoculations, followed by Cambodia, Argentina, Laos, down under, Peru additionally Malaysia, The TMB said in its Top 10 marketing.

    "yr after over 20,000 people visited us at within the caribbean Medical Bureau, Pre and post their trips, Medical representative Dr Graham Fry said. "We're seeing an increasing number of people travelling through South America, With long trips of three to six months conventional.

    "east Asia is, obviously, Popular as it's on learn how to Australia,

    weighed against 2009, The top four ports of call remain unchanged, But have been some surprises, The TMB considered.

    Australia dropped from fifth hottest-selling in 2009, To eighth city, Argentina jumped into sixth place for 2010, Having place eight in 2009. Malaysia entered the Top 10 for the first time and Cambodia joined the Top Five, After utilizing at sixth place in 2008/2009.

    March 5, 2021 at 05:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Soo Pederzani


    March 6, 2021 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. WilliamPeesy

    In any the actuality, the standards of propitious news-casting haven't been ready of past this noteworthy network index. Google indeed thinks usually to the look and substance of articles, peculiarly as a component of its XML. Major news-casting is tied in with being straightforward and as level headed as could be expected.

    For what talk over with do you meditate on the Google XML sitemap creeps, lists, and distributes outsider site soothe from CNN, BBC, Techcrunch, The Wall In someone's bailiwick Magazine and others in its list items?

    my blog


    March 20, 2021 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Cristobal Piccione

    Yay google is my world beater helped me to find this outstanding site! .


    March 24, 2021 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Lorriane Willaby

    You got a very fantastic website, Sword lily I found it through yahoo.


    March 24, 2021 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Evette Rogens

    You have remarked very interesting details! ps nice website . "If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one" by Abraham Lincoln.


    March 24, 2021 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Letty Goos

    Thank you for sharing with us, I think this website truly stands out : D.


    March 24, 2021 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Allegra Trachsel

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…


    March 24, 2021 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Zelda Winsky

    I likewise conceive thus, perfectly pent post! .


    March 24, 2021 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Emilia Sances

    I've been browsing online more than three hours nowadays, but I never found any fascinating article like yours. It¦s beautiful price enough for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content material as you probably did, the web shall be a lot more helpful than ever before.


    March 25, 2021 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. inbooks.atthost24.pl

    Educational Psychology Courses Online History Of Sociology Pdf Download

    Also visit my web page: get pdf (inbooks.atthost24.pl)

    March 30, 2021 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. inbooks.atthost24.pl

    Example Of Poetry In The Bible The Raven Cycle Order

    My webpage ... pdf book (inbooks.atthost24.pl)

    March 31, 2021 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. http://polandsleep.e-kei.pl/

    Poetry In Literature Pdf Prose Definition Oxford Dictionary

    Review my homepage :: pdf wordpress – http://polandsleep.e-kei.pl/,

    March 31, 2021 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. http://polandsleep.e-kei.pl/

    Book Of Wisdom Latin Zakir Husain College Ilayangudi

    Look into my webpage: pdf list (http://polandsleep.e-kei.pl/)

    April 1, 2021 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. baringbooker.nstrefa.pl

    African American Literature Importance Cyberjaya University College Of Medical
    Sciences Ranking

    my blog :: library (baringbooker.nstrefa.pl)

    April 2, 2021 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. generic tadalafil 40 mg

    generic tadalafil 40 mg https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil 40

    April 3, 2021 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. vardenafil 40 mg

    vardenafil nortwest pharmacy https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil tablets 20 mg best price

    April 5, 2021 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. buy online sildenafil

    60 mg sildenafil https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ buy sildenafil online us

    April 5, 2021 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. how much alprostadil pellets cost

    alprostadil side https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil pellets

    April 7, 2021 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. alprostadil ingredients 745-65-3

    injectable medication for erectile dysfunction https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil intraurethral (muse) therapy

    April 12, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. male enhancement cvs pharmacy

    erectile reflex https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile mastery

    April 13, 2021 at 07:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. buy sildenafil citrate online

    sildenafil tablets 100 mg https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil 100mg coupon

    April 13, 2021 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. canadian pharmacy sildenafil

    sildenafil tabs 50mg https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil tablets 100mg uk

    April 13, 2021 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. generic tadalafil united states

    what is tadalafil https://elitadalafill.com/ buy tadalafil us

    April 13, 2021 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. zithromax for sale

    zpack uti treatment https://zithromaxes.com/ 500mg zithromax

    April 13, 2021 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. vardenafil cvs

    teva pharms vardenafil https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil tablets 20 mg

    April 14, 2021 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. generic tadalafil

    tadalafil generic https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil gel

    April 14, 2021 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. canadian pharmacies ed pills

    best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pharmacies ed pills

    April 14, 2021 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. buy zithromax z-pak

    zithromax pills https://zithromaxes.com/ zithromax uso

    April 15, 2021 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. cialis canadian pharmacy

    canadian pharmacy 5 mg daily cialis https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian pharmacy cialis no prescription

    April 19, 2021 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. yvtelportgres1986.netlify.app

    Scholastic Books History Closet Drama In Literature

    Feel free to visit my webpage; wordpress.com (yvtelportgres1986.netlify.app)

    April 20, 2021 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. pdf wordpress

    Health Education Specialist Salary Outlander Books What Happens

    Stop by my webpage pdf wordpress

    April 20, 2021 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. what is the brand name for the generic drug for viagra in canada

    viagra in canada for sale to united states https://canadaviagrastore.com/ cheap viagra from canada

    April 22, 2021 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. vardenafil tablets

    non-prescriptoin vardenafil https://vegavardenafil.com/ buy vardenafil over the counter online

    April 23, 2021 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. alprostadil penile suppository

    erection injection medicine https://alprostadildrugs.com/ how do i use alprostadil urethral suppository

    April 24, 2021 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    canadian pills online https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian diet pills

    April 27, 2021 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. chloroquine new zealand

    hloroquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine phosphate vs chloroquine sulphate

    April 28, 2021 at 06:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. avana

    avana 50 mg avanafil cost

    April 29, 2021 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. priligy

    priligy 90 mg dapoxetine 30mg price

    April 30, 2021 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. avanafil

    avanafil 100 avanafil 50mg

    April 30, 2021 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. cialis on line purches canadian pharmacy

    canadian pharmacy generic cialis https://canadacialisstore.com/ how can i order cialis from a canadian pharmacy

    April 30, 2021 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. ed medication

    does erectile dysfunction mean heart problems https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile tissue in men

    May 1, 2021 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine india priligy

    May 6, 2021 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. aralen chloroquine

    is chloroquine available over the counter https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine malaria

    May 7, 2021 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. stornobrzinol

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my weblog so i came to “return the want”.I'm trying to find things to enhance my web site!I guess its adequate to use a few of your ideas!!


    May 13, 2021 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. cyclosporine

    buy cyclomune cyclomune

    May 15, 2021 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.