advertisement
08 September 2011

Bilingual homes exercise babies brains

Babies living in bilingual homes have a longer period of time when their brain is flexible to different languages than infants living where just one language is spoken, researchers say.

0

Babies living in bilingual homes have a longer period of time when their brain is flexible to different languages than infants living where just one language is spoken, researchers say.

The new study looked at infants living in bilingual (English and Spanish) and monolingual homes (English or Spanish), and found that the brains of babies in bilingual homes remained flexible to languages until they were 10 to 12 months old, compared with six to nine months for babies in monolingual homes.

The extended brain flexibility of bilingual infants may be due to their exposure to a greater variety of speech sounds at home, the University of Washington researchers suggested.

The investigators also found that the relative amount of English or Spanish the babies were exposed to affected their vocabulary as toddlers. For example, the more Spanish they heard as infants, the more Spanish words they knew when they were 15 months old.

The study was published in the Journal of Phonetics.

"The bilingual brain is fascinating because it reflects humans' abilities for flexible thinking - bilingual babies learn that objects and events in the world have two names, and flexibly switch between these labels, giving the brain lots of good exercise," co-author Patricia Kuhl, director of the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, said.

Learning more about the brain mechanisms that enable infants to learn multiple languages could help boost bilingualism in adults, she and her colleagues said.

More information

The Linguist List has more about bilingual and multilingual children.


(Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X

More:

ChildNews
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Watch out! »

Gross fungal infections you can pick up at the gym

You go to gym to exercise. But make sure the only thing you pick up is a dumbbell and not one of these gross fungal infections.

Holiday health »

Your 10-step asthma holiday checklist

Don’t let asthma ruin your summer holiday. Whether you are travelling or embracing the summer at home, make sure you plan ahead.