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Friday the 13th of September (HealthDay News)-A new study shows that bilingual or two-language speakers may be more mentally flexible than those who speak only one language.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have found that bilingual people are always active in both languages and are processing both languages at the same time. As a result, they can alternate between them without interruption.
“In the past, bilingualism was despised,” Judith Kroll, a professor of psychology, linguistics and women’s studies, said in a college news release. “Bilingualism is not only bad for you, it may be really good. When you always switch languages, it strengthens your mental muscles and strengthens your executive function.”
Studies recently published in the journal Psychology Frontier, Includes two experiments. First, the researchers asked 27 people who speak both Spanish and English to read 512 sentences written in either language. The language alternated every two lines. Participants read the sentences themselves until they arrived at the words written in red. The red words were cognate or words that sounded the same in both languages and had the same meaning. These red words needed to be read aloud as quickly and accurately as possible.
In a news release, psychology graduate student Jason Griffer said, “cognate objects were processed faster than contrasting words,” suggesting that both languages are active at the same time.
Participants in the second experiment completed the same tasks as the first group, but were presented with only one language at a time. The results of the second experiment were similar to those of the first experiment, so researchers concluded that context did not affect word recognition.
“The context of the experiment didn’t seem to matter,” Griffer said. “Looking at bilinguals, there seems to be some kind of mechanical control.”
-Mary Elizabeth Dallas
Copyright © 2013 Health Day. all rights reserved.
Source: Pennsylvania State University, News Release, September 10, 2013
Bilingual Increases Mental Flexibility, Research Results
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