Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
  |  Connect with Us: 
Text Size

Health News

Bilinguals Increase Their Mental Flexibility, Study Finds

Bilinguals Increase Their Mental Flexibility, Study Finds


FRIDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- People who are bilingual, or speak two languages, likely have more mental flexibility than those who speak just one language, according to a new study.

Researchers from Penn State University found that bilingual people have both languages active at all times and process both languages simultaneously. As a result, they are able to alternate between them without interruption.

"In the past, bilinguals were looked down upon," said Judith Kroll, professor of psychology, linguistics and women's studies, in a university news release. "Not only is bilingualism not bad for you, it may be really good. When you're switching languages all the time, it strengthens your mental muscle, and your executive function becomes enhanced."

The study, published recently in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, involved two experiments. First, the researchers had 27 people who spoke both Spanish and English read 512 sentences written in one language or the other. The languages alternated every two lines. The participants read the sentences to themselves until they came to a word written in red. The red words were cognates, or words that sounded and looked similar and had the same meaning in both languages. These red words had to be read out loud as quickly and accurately as possible.

"Cognate words were processed more quickly than control words," suggesting that both languages are active at the same time, Jason Gullifer, a graduate student in psychology, said in the news release.

Participants in the second experiment completed the same task as the first group, but they were presented with only one language at a time. Since the results of the second experiment were similar to the first, the researchers concluded that context does not influence word recognition.

"The context of the experiment didn't seem to matter," Gullifer said. "If you look at bilinguals, there seems to be some kind of mechanistic control."

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on the bilingual brain.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


Latest News

From Employee to Patient: Helena Revette Shares Her Experience at Crouse Hospital
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >