What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

 

Sam Wang: If children are exposed to two languages before their first birthday, this has unanticipated benefits. You can measure them in the laboratories when you bring these babies in.  They are better able to, for instance, resolve conflict cues. They are better able to unlearn a rule that they learned.  So for instance, if they learn that pulling on a string leads to a mobile moving or something else that they like, if the rule suddenly changes, they’re more rapidly able to resolve that conflict and learn the new rule.

And so one thing that’s interesting is that there seem to be ancillary benefits that come from learning a second language that don’t seem to have anything to do with the learning of the language itself.  A relatively advanced version of this is something that psychologists call “The Stroop Task.”  If I show you the letter… the word “red,” except it’s written in green ink, and you have to say, “Well, what color is that in? and it says “red” and you have to resist the impulse to say “red,” and you say, “It’s in green ink.”  Children who are bilingual are better at this Stroop Task. They’re better at resolving those kinds of cues.

There are other benefits that come from learning a second language as well.  One benefit that comes out of it that you might not expect is that children who know two languages are better at what’s called “Theory of Mind.”  And “Theory of Mind” is a phrase that refers to being able to understand what is on another person’s mind.  So let’s say if I can see that you are looking at the door and you’re thinking about who’s behind the door or you’re thinking about lunch or whatever it might be. . . . If I have a good model of what you’re thinking about, that’s the general capacity called “Theory of Mind.”  And bilingual children have been demonstrated to have a little bit better Theory of Mind.  And that’s interesting because Theory of Mind has, itself, many ancillary benefits like having empathy for other people.

It’s even been demonstrated that dementia, the loss of cognitive function as we get older, is delayed in people who are bilingual compared with people who do not speak a second language.  So the onset of dementia is delayed by an average of about four years in people who are bilingual compared with people who do not speak a second language.

So you get lots and lots of benefits from being bilingual, and this persists throughout life.  It’s even been demonstrated that whatever demands that bilingual makes on our brains continue all the way through life.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

 

 

Bilingualism Will Superchar...

Newsletter: Share: