Fact 1: Your brain is an energy saving device … typically it likes to do the same thing, the same way, each day.
Fact 2: Learning new skills encourages the brain to reorganise itself and forge new synaptic connections; creating new pathways to execute tasks.
Fact 3: The older we get, the more the brain baulks at new skills.
Fact 4: Learning a new language is frustrating, humbling and incredibly beneficial for brain health.
Learning a second, third or fourth language induces profound experience-dependent alterations in the brain that have been associated with enhanced cognitive function. US researchers found significant neuro-structural differences between mono-lingual and bi-lingual people; notably the symmetry, surface area and thickness of the mid-anterior region of the corpus callosum [ACC].
Subjects who spoke >2 languages demonstrated higher cognitive capacity, not just limited to explicit/ episodic or declarative memory either!
Why bi-linguals returned higher structural integrity of the anterior region of the Corpus Callosum [ACC] than mono-linguals is somewhat of a mystery… However with the ACC being so close to the brain’s emotional regulation centre, the limbic system… it made sense that bi-lingual folk had greater conflict resolution abilities; both verbally and non-verbally. Task switching efficiency, inter-hemispherical integration, social aptitude, emotional resilience, empathy and dynamic adaptability… bi-linguals returned enhanced function in these areas. The more languages learned at any age, the greater the strength of our ACC and CPU!
Whilst immersion learning is the fastest way to arrive at this NeuroStrength end-point, in the absence of bolting to the nearest international airport with passport in hand, here are some practical step-by-step suggestions:
- Write a goal on a piece of paper for 5 phrases you’d like to learn in another language.
- Open an atlas with closed eyes and drop your pointer finger on a country, any country.
- If the country is English-speaking, repeat step 2.
- Practice your self-selected nominated phrases for 5 minutes each day for 5 days (recruit your loved ones, learning is much more meaningful when shared!).
- Smile, you’re on a path to greater ACC integrity!
Always yours in strength and brain health,
Neuro Strength Australia
Disclaimer: Epictetus was on the money, learning is a humbling process – prepare to appear foolish in order to become a master.