India as a country is home to a vast variety of cultural and linguistic identities, and most Indians are exposed to more than one language in their daily life. And now, the very thing that most Indians take for granted, has been shown as something that can alter the structure of one’s brain — in a good way.

The practice of switching between two languages was compared to mental gymnastics, and cognitive scientist Judith Kroll said that “bilinguals are really a model of cognitive control”, as she said pointed their expertise in being able to switch between languages at the right time.

b’Representational image’

The research suggests that switching between multiple languages rewires a person’s brain to work in a different manner then brains of those who speak a single language. If someone faces difficulty difficulty in selecting the correct language depending on the context, it is probably caused due to the brain simultaneously processing information in both languages at all times.

The research focused on four month olds, eight month olds and one year olds, 60 of whom were bilingual and 60 from monolingual backgrounds. They observed that as they grew older, children exposed to two languages looked at the mouth instead of eyes of a speaker, while monolingual children looked at both, but focused more on the mouth.

b’Brain rewire’

Kroll told Quartz that,

“Babies who are listening to two languages [growing up] become attuned to those two languages right away. It’s not confusing them or messing them up developmentally—the opposite is true.”

Meanwhile the changes in the functioning of the brain do not take place in the same manner for every bilingual person, since everyone has their own language experience.  

All images sourced from Reuters