The Cognitive Benefits of Knowing Multiple Languages

Modified on by Amanda Moritz-Saladino



Cognitive benefits of knowing more than one language

Language learning holds a special place in Brainscape‘s history. Did you know the idea for Brainscape came from our Founder and CEO, Andrew Cohen, trying to quickly learn French? You can read more about How Brainscape Was Born if you’re interested. Beyond being able to communicate with a whole new population of people—which is one of the main (and really exciting!) motivators for learning new language—there’s a slew of brain-tastic benefits to speaking multiple languages. From delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s, to helping you multitask or adapt to change, new research is uncovering a whole new set of cognitive benefits of knowing multiple languages.

Science Shows Multilingual Speakers have Cognitive Benefits

Below are links to a few articles on research behind the cognitive benefits attributed to multilingualism that will definitely motivate you to keep on learning:

Bilingual Kids Show Cognitive Advantages

Rick Nauert from Psych Central summarizes an article from Psychological Science in the Public Interest. The research indicates that bilingual-children perform better on measures of attention and cognitive control when compared to monolingual-children. According to the authors, “when a bilingual speaks two languages regularly, speaking in just one of these languages requires use of the control network to limit interference from the other language and to ensure the continued dominance of the intended language.”

Bilingualism Delays Onset of Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Dr. Craik, lead investigator in the study says, “Bilingualism…may contribute to cognitive reserve in the brain which appears to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms for quite some time.” Meaning, even when a bilingual-individual has the same pathology as a mono-lingual individual, he(she) may not show the same cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s as the mono-lingual individual.

Raising Bilingual Children: A Growing Trend

It seems the cat is out of the bag, and more and more parents are aiming to raise bilingual babies. This is an interesting, and short, article covering the benefits of raising a bilingual child, including tips on how to do it!

‘Mum and dad made me multi-task better’

Want to be a better multitasker? Exercise your brain with a new language. Neil Bowdler for the BBC reports that bilingual individuals are more adaptable to change. “Professor Diamond[interviewed by the BBC World Service radio progamme Science in Action] said the study suggested that individuals reared bilingually were better able to focus in confusing situations…[Dr. Diamond states,] ‘An infant reared bilingually has to practice at paying attention which the rest of us don’t.'”

The Bilingual Brain

The Society for Neuroscience covers recent findings and future research goals in studying the cognitive benefits attributed to multilingualism.



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