Language learning makes your brain grow
Do you need some extra motivational factors to keep your Swedish lessons going? How about this one. A study shows that studying a foreign language actually makes your brain grow.
What did the study say?
The study compared language students who studied a foreign language full time with students who studied other topics full time (for ex medical students). Their brains were scanned before and after a 3 month intensive study period.
The other students’ brains were unchanged. But the language students’ brains had increased in volume in specific areas; the hippocampus and three areas of the cerebral cortex.
Students with larger increases of volume in hippocampus and superior temporal gyrus (a part of cerebral cortex associated with language learning) did better in the language classes. Students who found the language learning process harder had a larger volume increase in the “motorical part” of cerebral cortex (middle frontal gyrus).
The researchers conclude that foreign language learning is a good way of keeping your brain active. This is also further confirmed by previous studies that have shown that bi- and multilingual people develop Alzheimers later than other groups.
Read more about the study here.
Are there other studies showing similar results?
Yes, in fact there are! Another study has shown larger changes in gray matter structure of the right hippocampus in people who studied vocabulary, compared to a control group. And yet another study has shown that long-term active bilingualism leads to neuroprotective effects in the hippocampus.
So it seems that just engaging in learning another language can protect the brain from ageing!
Knowing this can help language learners increase their motivation. Some learners might wonder why they should learn a language if they’re not going to live in that country. These types of research results will add another factor. Study a language and protect your brain!