The bilingual brain: Why one size doesn’t fit all

There is more than one type of bilingualism.

A bilingual poster on the wall of a first grade classroom translates the Spanish word, 'oir' into 'hearing.' (Photo by Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)

Over the past few years, you might have noticed a surfeit of articles covering current research on bilingualism. Some of them suggest that it sharpens the mind, while others are clearly intended to provoke more doubt than confidence, such as Maria Konnikova’s ‘Is Bilingualism Really an Advantage?’ (2015) in The New Yorker. The pendulum swing of the news cycle reflects a real debate in the cognitive science literature, wherein some groups have observed effects of bilingualism on non-linguistic skills, abilities and function, and others have been unable to replicate these findings.

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How Thinking in a Foreign Language Reduces Superstitious Belief

A new study shows that “magical thinking” can be reduced by presenting and processing information in a second language.

Photo: Ciocci via Flickr (flickr.com/photos/ciocci)

Superstition is everywhere in our modern lives. Each Friday the 13th, nearly a billion dollars in business is avoided because people are afraid that it will be bad luck to do it that day. In the United Kingdom, traffic accidents increase dramatically on the same day, despite less traffic overall. Even for those of us who consider ourselves rational people, the effects of superstition can still hinder us. We know we have nothing to fear, but fear it anyway.

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