Bilingualism promotes hearing
Bilingual adults often have a better ear
Anyone who grows up multilingual will also train their hearing. In one test, bilingual youths were far better at distinguishing speech from noise than their monolingual peers. According to the scientists, bilingual humans processed sounds better in the brainstem.
Bilingualism improves the processing of sounds in the brainstem
Multilingualism offers not only more diverse opportunities to communicate, but also improves the hearing. The researchers report to study director Nina Kraus from Northwestern University in Evanston in the science magazine „According to the current study, bilinguals are more likely to distinguish syllables from noise than people raised monolingual, as was shown in a test in which bilingual teens are much more likely to syllable „there“, which was not assigned to any particular language, could distinguish from noise such as music and voices as peers with only one language.
This ability is based on more effective processing of sounds in the most primitive part of the brain, the brainstem, the researchers explain. Similar profound adaptations of the ability to hear were hitherto known only by professional musicians. „Bilingual people are natural jugglers, "explains study leader Kraus to the news agency „dpa“. Due to the bilingualism, the brain is constantly processing different language stimuli. The brain of children growing up in multiple languages seems to be more attentive to any kind of language-typical stimuli. „Bilingualism thus promotes the ability to generally pick the sound of human speech out of the environment and ignore unimportant sounds, "explains Kraus.
Even before the investigation, it was known that the speech processing and memory centers were modified by bilingualism in the cerebral cortex. What is new, however, is the realization that this neuronal specialization also refers to lower-level abilities and brain areas, according to the researchers. Further investigations will reveal whether such an effect is also due to the later learning of a second language.
Bilingual hearing system more effective
For the investigation, 23 bilingual youths, English and Spanish, and 25 teenagers who spoke only English, heard more than 6000 syllables over headphones „there“. Meanwhile, researchers recorded the brainwave patterns of the more primitive brain areas involved in hearing. Then the test was repeated but the syllable became „there“ voices of female and male speakers mixed in with each other, talking nonsensical phrases. The researchers were able to determine by means of electrodes, how often and well the syllable „there“ was recognized by the brain areas. „The brainstorm of the bilingual teens reacted more clearly to the key stimulus in the form of the syllable, "explain Kraus and her colleagues to the „dpa“. This difference was especially clear during the voices. „The greater experience with different sounds has made the bilingual's hearing system more effective, focused and flexible, so it works better, especially in difficult conditions.“
Bilingualism delays Alzheimer's
A group of researchers led by Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto found out early last year that Alzheimer's occur in bilinguals four to five years later than in people who speak only one language.
According to the psychologist, bilingual people have two connections in the brain for each object - each language has a concept. Unlike people who have learned a foreign language while still at school, Bialystok has always been active on both bilingual adults. The neural connections in the prefrontal cortex are therefore more pronounced in bilinguals. In addition, when bilingual educated people more often both halves of the brain are simultaneously active and networking in the brain work better, the expert reported.
Alzheimer's patients, who were educated bilingually, later benefited from bilingualism. In their case, the disease appears delayed and the symptoms of disease also developed much slower, so Bialystok. (Ag)