Learning foreign languages ​​can sharpen your mind: study


According to a new study, learning foreign languages ​​can sharpen your brain by improving its elasticity and ability to encode information. The more foreign languages ​​we learn, the more efficiently our brain reacts and processes the data accumulated during learning, researchers have said. The neurophysiological mechanisms of language and speech acquisition are underexplored compared to other brain functions.

The reason for such rare attention is the inability to study verbal function in test animals. Researchers from the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Russia and colleagues from the University of Helsinki in Finland conducted experiments where the electrical activity of the brain was measured by electroencephalography (EEG).

Ten men and 12 women, with an average age of 24, took part in the survey. The subjects had electrodes placed on their head and then listened to recordings of different words in their native language, as well as in foreign languages, both known and totally unknown by the subjects.

When known or unknown words appeared, changes in brain activity were tracked. The researchers focused on how quickly the brain readjusts its activity to process unfamiliar words.

Then, the accumulated neurophysiological data was compared to the subject’s linguistic background: how many languages ​​he knew, at what age he started learning them, etc.

Apparently, the brain’s ability to quickly process information depends on its “linguistic anamnesis”, the researchers said. The experiment shows that the electrical activity of the brain of the participants who already knew certain foreign languages ​​was higher.

Yuriy Shtyrov, one of the study’s authors, said that the more languages ​​a person masters, the faster the neural network encoding information about new words is formed. This new data stimulates the physiology of the brain: loading the mind with more knowledge increases its elasticity. Scientists believe that understanding how the brain works in language acquisition is critically important for diagnosing speech disorders after accidents, strokes and other related conditions, and for finding ways to fix them. treat.

“Furthermore, when we have a better understanding of the principles of building and strengthening neural networks, we will be able to harness these mechanisms, speed them up, and improve the learning process,” the researchers said. . The finding was published in the journal Scientific Reports.


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