Language Learning Develops the Brain

Students at the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy go through an intensive language program that takes them from monolingual to completely bilingual in only 13 months. Researchers conducted MRI scans of the students as they entered the program and then after completing three months of the language studies. They found that different sections of the brain developed differently depending on how much effort students had to put into a course and how well they performed. As an example, students who had to put more effort into learning the language showed greater growth of the motor region of the cerebral cortex, while students who had better language skills had greater growth in the hippocampus and superior temporal gyrus regions. Though the study was conducted with an intensive language program, it suggests that learning new languages is a good way to exercise the brain and keep it in shape.

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