Young girl thinking about foreign phrases Young girl thinking about foreign phrases Photo: gpointstudio / Shutterstock

Study reveals bilingual people are faster thinkers

The ability to speak two languages fluently is shown to substantially increase mental dexterity.

A team of scientists have discovered that adults who have been bilingual since childhood are better able to create complex ideas, solve problems and quickly move between topics of thought.

The study was conducted among two sets of adults to determine if fluency in two languages exhibited an enhanced ability to generate spontaneous, flexible, complex thoughts. The study was led by researchers at the University of Haifa's Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center in Israel.

The first group consisted of adults who grew up speaking Hebrew and English at the same level of fluency; the second group consisted of Hebrew speakers who had acquired a moderate level of English in school. Participants were asked to complete a series of tests designed to determine their cognitive flexibility.

Analysis of the results showed that the major difference between the groups was that bilingual adults were better able to move between sets of ideas quickly and independently.

“The lifelong experience of bilinguals, characterized by the constant shifting between languages, may explain their noted advantage of cognitive flexibility,” Ibrahim said in a No Camels article.

The results of the study were recently published in the journal “Psychology.” It is one in a series being conducted at the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center that aims to measure cognitive and brain activity to understand the relationship between bilingualism and certain cognitive functions. Previous research on bilingualism has revealed that being equally fluent in two languages boosts certain cognitive functions, in particular the ability of children to perceive and form ideas.

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Study reveals bilingual people are faster thinkers
Bilingual adults are better able to create complex ideas, solve problems, and quickly move between sets of thoughts, according to a new study.