Bilinguals increase their mental flexibility - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Bilinguals increase their mental flexibility

Updated:
© iStockphoto.com / James Steidl © iStockphoto.com / James Steidl
  • HealthMore>>

  • Spouse's sunny outlook may be good for your health

    Spouse's sunny outlook may be good for your health

    Marriage vows often include the promise to stick together for better or for worse, and research now suggests that when it comes to your health, having an optimistic spouse is better.More >>
    Marriage vows often include the promise to stick together for better or for worse, and research now suggests that when it comes to your health, having an optimistic spouse is better.More >>
  • Mental illness not a driving force behind crime

    Mental illness not a driving force behind crime

    TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 10 percent of crimes committed by mentally ill people are directly linked to the symptoms of their disorders, a new study shows. "When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes, so they get stuck in people's heads," said study author Jillian Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. "The vast majority of people with mental illness a...More >>
    TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 10 percent of crimes committed by mentally ill people are directly linked to the symptoms of their disorders, a new study shows. "When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes, so they get stuck in people's heads," said study author Jillian Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. "The vast majority of people with mental illness a...More >>
  • A little wine might help kidneys stay healthy

    A little wine might help kidneys stay healthy

    An occasional glass of wine might help keep your kidneys healthy, new research suggests.More >>
    An occasional glass of wine might help keep your kidneys healthy, new research suggests.More >>

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.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.