Learning a language can improve mental agility


A study recently published in the journal Cognition, by Thomas Bak, Mariana Vega-Mendoza, and Antonella Sorace, demonstrated that learning a second language could improve a person’s mental agility, at any age. The study involved 200 students where the researchers assessed their mental alertness, such as the production of different words and concentration on certain sounds. There was a comparison made between first year students, who had just started to learn a language, and fourth year students, who were more proficient in the language. The results from the study demonstrated that students who learned a second language were better at switching their attention to filter information. The researchers believe that the study confirms the cognitive benefits of learning and language learning.

Original Article: http://www.todaytopics.com/learning-languages-improves-mental-agility-at-any-age-study-suggests/33432/

Bilingualism affects children’s beliefs


A study conducted by professor Krista Byers-Heinlein from Concordia University demonstrated how children who were exposed to a second language, after the age of three, were more likely to believe that an individual’s traits arise from experience, not something they are born with. The study included 48 children, between five and six years old, who were either monolingual, simultaneous bilingual (learned two languages at once) and sequential bilingual (learned one language and then another). The children were told different scenarios related to language learning and were asked follow up questions. The results demonstrated that the monolingual children were more likely to think of everything as being innate, meanwhile bilinguals were more likely to think that everything is learned through experiences. The bilingual children had different expectations than the monolinguals. The researchers hope that this finding can raise the possibility that second language education can help promote the acceptance of human social and physical diversity.

Original Article: http://www.concordia.ca/cunews/main/stories/2015/01/13/how-bilingualism-affects-childrens-beliefs.html

Bilingualism exercises the brain


The researcher Viorica Marian, of Northwestern University’s School of Communication, conducted a study in which volunteers were asked to perform word recognition exercises. The volunteers were monolingual and bilingual. Their blood flow was observed in order to measure how hard the brain was working during the tasks. According to Marian, the monolinguals had a harder time identifying the correct words because the bilingual brain is constantly choosing which language to use and which to ignore. The bilingual brain is better at inhibitory control, constantly filtering out irrelevant words,  and in doing so, it provides the brain a built-in exercise.

Original Article: http://www.voanews.com/content/bilingualism-found-to-constantly-exercise-brain/2518181.html

Connection between language and smell


According to a study conducted by researchers at Stockholm University and Northwestern University in Chicago, language is connected with the sense of smell. The researchers conducted a study where participants decided whether a word such as “lemon” matched with an object that was presented just before the word. The researchers presented the object visually or through smell, evoking brain activity. The results demonstrated that the brain reactivated the region in the olfactory system where smells are translated into linguistic expressions, to in order to determine the meaning of the words.These findings may help explain why it is so difficult to recognize smells and  can help with the detection of early stages of dementia.

Original Article: http://www.healthcanal.com/brain-nerves/57073-an-interface-between-smells-and-language-in-the-brain-has-been-discovered.html

Learning a new language can cause the same pleasure as eating chocolate


A recent study in Barcelona’s Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute and Otto von Guericke University has found that learning new meaningful words activates a core reward center in the brain, the ventral striatum. This area stimulates pleasure in the brain and is also activated when eating chocolate and gambling. The researchers conducted trials on 36 adults who participated in gambling simulations and language-based test. The scientists looked at MRI scans of the participants’ brains and discovered that both language-based and gambling-like tests activated the same parts of the brain. The results also demonstrated that those with higher myelin concentrations, which is connected to the reward area, were able to learn more words. The findings of the study could help promote possible treatments for people with disorders connected with language learning.

Original Article: http://rt.com/news/199416-brain-sex-chocolate-language/

Accents in sign language


Accents appear when an isolated group of speakers exaggerate their shared language over time. This causes idiosyncrasies that allows them to identify outsiders, and allow outsiders to identify them. Like any other language, Sign language has its own grammar and idioms, which means that it also has its own accents. There are 130 distinct sign languages worldwide each of these carry an accent. A distinctive regional accent among people in the southern states is that they tend to touch their lower face and chest a lot when they sign. However, the difference between certain signs are not only based on the regions, it can also be dependent on the group of people. Sign language speakers have accents that vary based on their age, ethnicity, and whether or not they’re hearing or deaf. There is also variation in sign language speed. These variations allow the presence of character and richness in a language while conveying information about a person.

Original Article: http://io9.com/yes-sign-language-has-accents-1650818475