Learning foreign languages triggers brain growth

How many languages do you know? Maybe English, Spanish, French, Chinese… Have you ever thought about the benefits that learning foreign languages can bring? Specialists discovered that intensive study of foreign tongues stimulates the growth of the hippocampus and causes changes in other structures of the brain. Learning languages also helps in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. This was proved by researchers who had two groups of students learning different subjects, one of the groups studied a certain language for 13 months and the second one was composed by medical students, who studied their normal university medicine subjects. The results were surprising: the structure of the brain of the control group remained unchanged, but the students who studied a foreign language had certain parts of their brain increased in size. The growth was specifically found in the hippocampus—part of the brain responsible for the development of new knowledge and which consolidates short-term memory into long-term memory. Scientists say that the effect that learning foreign language bring is a lot better when you have learned that specific tongue during childhood. That was proved with the following experiment; researchers examined a group of people who knew English only, bilingual people (who had spoken a second language—French—since they were children) and people who learned English when they were adults already (as a foreign language). Of course, changes in the brain were more intense in the ones who had learned French during their childhood. However, despite this scientific conclusion, language learning in adulthood and even in old age can do a lot of good. Learning other tongues can be very difficult sometimes, but it’s up to us if we want to get its benefits.

Guest article written by Maria Ignacia (lettersandmagic.tumblr.com)

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