Tags: bilingual | memory | attention

Bilingualism Boosts Attention, Memory

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:09 PM

People who speak more than one language may have a psychological edge when it comes to attention and working memory, a new study has found.
The Northwestern University study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to show bilinguals' language skills may "fine-tune" their auditory nervous systems in ways that enhance their ability to focus and remember things.
"Bilingualism serves as enrichment for the brain and has real consequences when it comes to executive function, specifically attention and working memory," said neuroscientist Nina Kraus, who helped conduct the study.
For the study, researchers examined regions of the brain associated with language, music and other cognitive functions. They compared the brain activity of 23 bilingual English-and-Spanish-speaking teenagers and 25 English-only-speaking teens as they heard speech under two conditions. Under a quiet condition, the groups responded similarly. But against a backdrop of background noise, the brains of the bilinguals were significantly better at focusing and processing information.
"People do crossword puzzles and other activities to keep their minds sharp," said co-researcher Viorica Marian, a Northwestern bilingualism expert. "But the advantages we've discovered in dual language speakers come automatically simply from knowing and using two languages. It seems that the benefits of bilingualism are particularly powerful and broad, and include attention."

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Speaking two languages 'fine tunes' the brain in ways that enhance the ability to focus and remember.
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:09 PM
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