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Bilingual Babies Are Better Problem-Solvers

Bilingual babies have enhanced brain activities pertaining to problem-solving, and are also more open to learning new languages, says a study published in Developmental Science.


The brains of babies as young as 11 months of age who are from bilingual families not only show activities linked with executive functions but are also more open to grasping the sounds of new languages as opposed to babies from monolingual households, according to a new study.

Executive function, defined as a combination of cognitive abilities pertaining to problem-solving, attention, and similar features, seems to be enhanced in babies who are exposed to bilingual adults. Adults have previously been shown to exhibit this advantage, and the new study, led by Naja Ferjan Ramírez from the University of Washington, shows that this actually happens from as early as 11 months of age in humans. Bear in mind that this is the age when babies will generally start saying their first words.

Ramírez explains that this indicates that the effects of bilingualism are not restricted to language development only; rather, they extend to a more general faculty that is cognition.

Furthermore, being in an environment where more than one language is spoken helps babies to be more open to learn more languages. This means that their brains are more inclined to adapting to novel languages. On the other hand, monolingual babies demonstrate a narrowed perception of sounds: if they could distinguish sounds of foreign language at 6 months of age, they could no longer do so when reaching 11 months.

The video below shows the experimental procedures involved in the study:-

Executive function might be enhanced in bilingual people because of the need to jump from one language to another which would require for them to continuously practise and improve skills relating to executive function.

Ramírez, thus, says that early childhood is the ideal time for kids to start learning new languages.


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