Bilingualism Will Supercharge Your Baby's Brain
Children exposed to two languages before their first birthday enjoy myriad cognitive benefits.
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
Want to give you baby an edge? Raise them bilingual. Children who are exposed to multiple languages before their first birthday enjoy many cognitive and intellectual benefits throughout childhood and later in life.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.
- Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
- The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
- Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.
- Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
- A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
- The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.