A multilingual brain is a smarter brain: a review of recent findings in neuroscience and implications for education

by Dara Ghahremani

Recent advances in neuroscience have revealed important insights about the multilingual brain. In addition to increasing our understanding of how languages are neurally represented, an emerging literature suggests that the unique organization of multilingual brains creates advantageous "side effects". For example, the brains of multilinguals afford them stronger cognitive skills, such as greater agility in switching between tasks, as well as artistic talents, notably in the domain of music. In this talk, I will review this work that has potential to shift our view of language learning as not only for the purpose of developing communication skills but more broadly to enhance cognitive skills. This perspective has implications for the role of language learning in education, not only to prepare students to communicate in an increasingly globalized society, but also to provide a cognitive edge that serves innovation, and creativity.