The language you are introduced to affects the structure of your brain, influences how you see the world and who you are. But what if you speak two languages?
Can learning a language rewire your brain?
As our species evolved parts of our brain expanded, resulting in more computing power for language. It’s what makes us hard-wired for communication. What is perhaps more surprising is how language can shape our brains throughout our lives.
Most of the evidence for this comes from studies of people who are bilingual. Being bilingual offers widespread benefits across a range of complex cognitive tasks and it comes from distinct areas of the brain.
Brain scan studies show that switching between two languages triggers different patterns of brain activity compared with speaking in one language, particularly in the prefrontal cortex. That part of the brain, at the very front of our skulls, is involved in organising and acting on information, including using working memory, reasoning and planning. Other studies show that bilinguals are faster at getting to grips with a new language.