General, Research, Technology

How does knowledge of several languages ​​affect the brain?

Most people are fluent.only in one language, which they learned in childhood thanks to the environment of their parents and other relatives. But there are people in the world who speak several languages ​​at once. Some of them learn two languages ​​due to the fact that the mother was born in one part of the planet, and the father in another. The rest of the new knowledge is instilled in school, university and other educational institutions. It would be logical to assume that the knowledge of several languages ​​at once is somehow reflected in the work of the brain. But in science, assumptions taken from the air do not enjoy special respect, so proven facts are needed. Scientists have been searching for evidence that knowledge of several languages ​​affects the functioning of the brain for more than a decade. Recently, another group of scientists conducted an experiment, during which it turned out that people who know many languages ​​are slow to think. But that doesn't mean they are stupid.

Speaking multiple languages ​​definitely affects the brain, but how?

The effect of languages ​​on the brain

The results of the scientific work were published inscientific journal Brain and Language. The study involved 35 volunteers, among whom 17 people spoke fluent English and Spanish, and the remaining 18 knew only English. They were all in turn placed on a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, which can track blood flow to specific areas of the brain. If blood has accumulated in one or more areas, it means that they are currently active.

This is similar to how the brain is scanned through fMRI.

During the brain scan, participants hearddifferent words and seen a set of four images. The pictures depicted the sounded object, as well as objects with consonant names. For example, the word “cloud” sounded from the speakers, and the pictures showed a cloud, a clown (cloud and clown are very close in sound) and other consonant objects. The subjects were given the task of showing the object, the name of which sounded from the speakers, as quickly as possible.

See also: How do dogs understand human language?

While observing the participants in the experiment,scientists noticed that speakers of two languages ​​made the choice much longer than others. However, this does not mean that they are stupid - the fact is that knowledge of several languages ​​implies keeping in mind two or more "dictionaries" at once. So, having heard one word, speaking in several languages ​​people went over more words in their heads and correlated them with the images shown. That is why it took them a little longer to pass the test. And native speakers of one language found it easier - they heard the word "clown" and without much hesitation chose the appropriate picture.

Who are bilinguals?

In general, people who are good at two languages ​​are usually called bilinguals... As a rule, they acquire the skill of bilingualismin two ways: natural and artificial. With the natural acquisition of bilingualism, a person is forced to learn to speak two languages ​​due to circumstances - for example, if his parents are representatives of two different nations. With the artificial acquisition of a skill, a person consciously learns the skill by attending special courses or even moving to another country in order to study another culture.

Some people move to other countries to learn a new language

Through numerous studies, scientistsnevertheless, they proved the advantages of bilingualists over people who speak only one language. First, for the most part, bilingualists have more developed mental abilities - by maintaining the activity of two languages, they develop the ability to concentrate on two things at the same time. Secondly, bilingualists have a developed imagination, as evidenced by the fact that many artists are bilingual. Thirdly, all these people can have more friends, because they have open communication with representatives of several nations at once.

One of the most famous bilinguals of our time is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg - he is fluent in English and Chinese

The disadvantages of bilingualism can only be attributed to thethe moment when children from mixed families start talking later. And it is understandable, because they hear much more new words that need to be memorized and learn to use correctly. At the same time, at first, many children speak a mixture of two languages, but, with the help of their parents, the separation occurs already by 3-4 years.

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Learn more about how people's brains work.knowing several languages ​​at once, my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova wrote earlier. I especially liked the part about a man named Emil Krebs who claimed to be able to speak 68 languages. I recommend reading!