Learning Foreign Languages Could Sharpen the Brain

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 22:57

Researchers of the Higher School of Economics (HSE) and University of Helsinki have confirmed that learning foreign languages can increase brain’s plasticity and its ability to encode information.

According to Science Daily, the more foreign languages one learns, the more effectively brain reacts and processes the data accumulated in the course of learning.

Researchers carried out experiments where the electrical activity in the brain of 10 male and 12 female participants was measured via electroencephalography (EEG). They measured brain activity while the participants listened to recordings of different words in their native language and a foreign language.

Results show that learning a second language influenced brain’s plasticity - the trait that determines the brain’s ability to change and improve over time. In participants who already knew foreign languages the brain’s electrical activity was higher. "The more languages someone mastered, the faster the neuron network coding the information on the new words was formed. Consequently, this new data stimulates the brain's physiology -- loading the mind with more knowledge boosts its elasticity," said Yuriy Shtyrov, researcher at the University of Helsinki of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

"When we achieve better insight into the principles of creating and strengthening neuron networks, we will be able to harness these mechanisms, speed them up and improve the learning process," Shtyrov added.

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