While most people assume that babies cannot absorb much while they are still fresh out of the womb, the truth is that babies constantly absorb everything. Babies raised in bilingual households develop more skills such as decision-making once they speak their first language, according to a new study. The more variety you offer your child at a young age, the better he will be.
Studies have shown that bilingualism has a somewhat muted effect in adulthood, but plays a major role in old age and protects a concept known as the cognitive reserve. To build on previous findings showing a link between bilingualism and cognitive development in young children and older adults, we reviewed the results of the current study, which used behavioral and neuroimaging methods to investigate the effects of filinguality on cognition in adulthood and to investigate possible mechanisms of this effect. Although the group of subjects in the study was small, the results presented were quite huge and are consistent with previous studies on the effect of bilingualism on cognitive function in adults. The results showed that different parts of our brains are activated in babies who grow up surrounded by different languages.
Cognitive reserves are of increasing importance in ageing populations, and we have discussed the possibility that bilingualism is associated with a delay in the onset of dementia symptoms. As our population becomes more diverse, the opportunities that linguistics contributes to the cognitive reserve are therefore of increasing importance.
The researchers involved in the study came mainly from the University of Washington, but the results confirm the fact that very young children can learn several languages and that early childhood is the optimal time to start learning. We found that babies from monolingual families were compared with those from bilingual families based on whether they were able to learn new language sounds. This means that there is a significant difference in their ability to absorb things, both in terms of language skills and cognitive abilities.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Michael D. Schreiber of the University of Washington, agrees with the findings.
In part, he believes it says a lot about how focused we should be on exposing our children at a young age. You can learn more about the topic in the video below, but the more we try, the better we can learn, Schreiber said.