Saturday 22 October 2016

How learning a new language affects your brain

Published 22/09/2016 | 02:30

A new scientific study suggests that learning foreign languages enhances the brain’s elasticity and improves its ability to take in new information.

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The study, published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’, was conducted by scientists from the Higher School of Economics in Russia and the University of Helsinki, and concluded that the more foreign languages a person learns, the more effectively their brain processes data stored in the course of learning them.

“The more languages someone mastered, the faster the neuron network coding the information on the new words was formed. Consequently, this new data stimulates the brain’s physiology — loading the mind with more knowledge boosts its elasticity,” said Yuriy Shtyrov, researcher at the University of Helsinki.

The researchers conducted a series of experiments where they measured the electrical brain activity of 10 men and 12 women with the average age of 24, while carrying out a specially designed word exposure exercise.

They found that knowing a second language influences the brain’s plasticity and that in those participants who already knew some foreign languages, the brain’s electrical activity was higher. In other words, brains of those participants who knew more languages processed the information more quickly.

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