Mutlilingual People Have Improved Mental Ability, Study Says

First Posted: Sep 05, 2016 07:23 AM EDT

There are some more reasons why it is advantageous to be multilingual. One of the most fundamental skill in a highly globalized world is learning to speak different languages. Travelling is more convenient when you are able to speak directly to the locals. It would be easier to watch foreign film learning the language instead of reading the subtitles. Also it is a good skill to impress your date. Yet a study adds one more reason why you should learn another language, they claim that it makes you smarter.

Eurekalert featured a study conducted by scientists from Higher School of Economics (HSE) and University of Helsinki which focused on the neurological mechanics of language and speech and language acquisition to mental functions. They subjected 22 students (10 males and 12 females) to an electroencephalogram (ECG). They rundown a recording of a series of words with two categories, the native words and nonnative words. They found out that the brain waves tend to change every time an unknown word is heard.

The neurophysiological data were then compared to the subject's "linguistic background". As it turned out, multilingual people tend to process information more quickly than monolingual individuals. There was also more neurological activity for multilingual subjects. The research also added that childhood acquisition of nonnative language tends to prolong neural encoding ability of a newly encountered word with unfamiliar phonology during adulthood. This validates a strong link between language skill of individual to its cognitive activities.

Lead author Yury Shtyrov, fellow of the HSE Centre for Cognition & Decision Making and University of Helsinki, explained this phenomena. When people are fluent in speaking a foreign language, tendencies are they also have an improved neural network and coding ability to a new information which simply translates to an improved brain functions and mental ability

This link between language acquisition and brain activity could be developed and further studied to provide possible treatments for post-traumatic stress patients suffering from speech loss.

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