Neuroscientific research has illuminated the neurological differences between monolingualism and bilingualism.
Monolingual and multilingual brains differ greatly in neuroplasticity. MRI technology now lets scientists see monolingual and multilingual brains’ neuroplasticity differences. Grey matter—cell bodies and dendrites of neurons—can be seen in MRIs.
Iowa State University neuroscientist John Grundy says the brain forms new connections and pathways. Bilingual brains have richer grey matter and more neuronal cell bodies and dendrites.
Effects of bilingualism on the brain
Bilingual brains have greater white matter integrity. White matter nerve fibers connect brain areas for successful communication. Regular language use maintains these relationships.
Multilingualism may protect against neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. It’s brain “exercise.” Because the links are strengthening.
Bilingualism affects brain architecture and functioning, according to a 2013 Edinburgh University research. 648 Indians, 391 bilingual, participated. Bilinguals acquired dementia 4.5 years later than monolinguals.
Broca’s and Wernicke’s regions in the left hemisphere store most people’s native language. Language acquisition is difficult, but scientists believe the corpus callosum transfers information between the left and right hemispheres. Bilinguals have more corpus callosum fibers and white matter.
This enhances cortical connections and shows how language experience affects these areas.
Bilingual persons have a bigger anterior cingulate, which monitors conflict, according to Pennsylvania State University psychology and linguistics professor Ping Li. It prevents other languages from interrupting speech while monitoring it.
Bilinguals control nonlinguistic cognitive conflicts better than monolinguals via the anterior cingulate. Bilingual brains can better handle cognitive difficulties like not knowing the second language word for something.
Language acquisition improves creativity, memory, and verbal and written communication outside of neuroscience.
Bilingualism provides several brain advantages, including neurodegenerative disease protection. These findings may affect educational and societal initiatives to improve language-learning in schools.