A child who speaks more than one language will not lose grey matter in the brain during adulthood, according to a recent study.
An international team of academics led by the University of Reading and Georgetown University did the study. Though bilingualism has previously been proved to positively affect brain structure and cognitive performance in adults, the recent study has shown how speaking more than one language impacts on developing brain.
Dr Christos Pliatsikas, who led the study, said that the gray matter in the brain decreases with age. However, he said that the areas in the brain that had grey matter showed less shrinking in bilinguals than monolinguals. “Earlier studies have shown that bilingualism has a positive effect on grey and white matter in adult brains. This is the first time that we have come across strong evidence for these effects in children and adolescents as well,” Christos Pliatsikas said.
The researchers said that the scan results of the brain showed that grey matter loss in children and adolescents during development was less pronounced in bilinguals than those who only spoke one language.
Pliatsikas said that the impact of bilingualism on grey and white matter may have a number of wider benefits for language and cognitive function, such as performance in tasks related to attention and executive control. He also stated that encouraging bilingualism in childhood may have benefits later in life.
The study was published in Journal Brain Structure and Function.