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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacobBarides

Repost: Language Learning And Neuroplasticity

I don't know what happened to my other post, but it seems to have disappeared. I did see your insightful response Songve, before the post got deleted.

Take two:Turns out that learning a second language is more beneficial and important than we'd thought.

Did anyone ever ask you why you're learning a "useless language"? Well here is what you can respond:

Researchers have found that studying a language enhances brain plasticity and capacity for learning.

Learning a language increases the power of neuroplasticity. if you are unfamiliar with the word neuroplasticity, it is the ability of the brain to form and recognize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. (There are a lot of explanations on Google. I put the simplest one. )

Without this ability for the brain to modify its connections or rewire itself, any brain would be unable to develop from infancy through to adulthood or recover from brain injury.

I came across this fantastic research that brings experimental evidence to the correlation between language learning and neural plasticity. I won't add the entire thing to this post, just the highlights. Here's the link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312708.php

These researchers found that understanding the brain mechanisms involved in acquiring language helps enormously in the diagnosis and treatment of people with impaired speech following accidents strokes and other related conditions.

it also suggests that the more foreign languages we learn, the faster the brain responds and processes the data it absorbs during learning. In other words, the study suggests loading the mind with more knowledge boosts its ability to acquire more.

Here's another article I found: "Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s tendency to undergo structural reconfiguration in response to environmental stimulus, cognitive demand or behavioural experience. Recent research has begun to examine neuroplasticity as a function of language acquisition. The evidence uncovered suggests that learning and using multiple languages induces changes in brain anatomy including functional neural patterns. These changes can occur rapidly and regardless of age.

The brain is made up of two types of tissues: gray matter and white matter. Gray matter contains the cell bodies of neurons whereas white matter refers to the axon bundles that connect different regions of gray matter to each other and carry nerve impulses between neurons. Gray matter density or volume is directly associated with general intelligence, memory, attention and language. White matter, on the other hand, governs the speed of information processing and memory recall and facilitates the travel of never impulses between neurons.

A study conducted by Stein et al. (2012) measured structural changes in the brain’s prefrontal and temporal cortices along with gray matter density, as a result of second language acquisition. The participants, who had minimal knowledge of the target language, underwent an intensive course that lasted three weeks. The researchers observed an increase in gray matter density, especially in the frontal lobes. These changes were directly attributed to second language acquisition.

Martensson et al. (2012) conducted another study targeting adult learners, specifically. The researchers observed significantly large increases in cortical thickness due to second language exposure. Increases in hippocampal volume were also noted. Both these studies concluded that language acquisition increases gray matter density and plasticity in the brain.

A third study, published in the Journal of Brain and Language, compared the white matter structure between monolinguals and Spanish-English bilingual adults living in the United States. The studies revealed that immersive learning of a second language increased neuroplasticity and white matter integrity in adult learners."

If you want to read the whole article https://medium.com/swlh/the-effects-of-second-language-acquisition-on-the-brain-c13778b45a

I'll end with a good quote: "language serves not only to express thoughts,but to make possible thoughts which could not exist without it" 1948 by philosopher Bertrand Russell.

October 3, 2019

56 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Interesting. Learning keeps your mind alive and inquisitive, learning has no age barriers. Bravo Bertrand!

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacobBarides

Amen to that!

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MemberOfBigDiam

Another quote from Bertrand Russel: "I remain convinced that obstinate addiction to ordinary language in our private thoughts is one of the main obstacles to progress in philosophy."

I hope you enjoy.

October 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

Thank you for posting this, it's very interesting. I don't why it's receiving downvotes. Thank you for sharing - and some Lingots in appreciation. :)

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scutigera

I think it would be helpful (and more readable) to put the quoted parts in "quotes" so that people do not get the idea you wrote this all yourself (which would then look like plagiarism).

Here is a link to several formatting guides:
https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/33503526

So you can edit the post to make the parts from the article look like this to set them apart from your own words:

The brain is made up of two types of tissues: gray matter and white matter. Gray matter contains the cell bodies of neurons whereas white matter refers to the axon bundles that connect different regions of gray matter to each other and carry nerve impulses between neurons. Gray matter density or volume is directly associated with general intelligence, memory, attention and language. White matter, on the other hand, governs the speed of information processing and memory recall and facilitates the travel of never impulses between neurons.


Thanks for sharing with us. :)

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jairapetyan

It looks nice too, Scutigera. Thanks for your comment. There are a few formatting techniques that are worthwhile to learn as they can help clarify meaning and give more impact to your posts. I recommend learning how to post in italics, in bold font, in those two combined, and to learn the quotation technique. These are all easy. It's also useful to be able to embed photos, but this is more complicated. Too bad you have to post them on imgur first.

Vita flumen est. Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scutigera

Imgur is a great resource though (and sometimes a fun diversion – this is a recent one Iiked: https://imgur.com/gallery/h13KUkL). It is worth having. But imgur is not the only picture hosting resource.


Thanks jairapetyan, I appreciate your feedback. :)

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacobBarides

Thanks for sharing the formatting guides. I edited the post ;-)

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacobBarides

I probably should've done that, I didn't think of it at the time. Thanks!

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ppelk

For those looking for sources & rigorous evidence, the blog-post linked by the OP in medium.com has a number of scientific papers in the references.

This was a nice one: Cortical thickness and hippocampal volumes increased after 3 months of intense language studies. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053811912006581?via%3Dihub

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Go4it2015

What a fantastic repost!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to pass on this positive and encouraging information.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/uphilldweller

"What a fantastic repost!"

I can't help but wonder what caused the need for a repost?

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewBalz2

I am sorry people disliked your comment it must have took forever to type it.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

I Followed the post and it's not on my Followed List. When you get 5 or more downvotes, it disappears from public view but remains indefinitely on anyone's Followed list. That tells me it was somehow deleted. I don't think my post had anything to do with it. If my discussing the amygdala and PTSD was construed as offensive, it would seem my post would have been deleted and not your Discussion. Maybe...whatwith all the changes, do FIvers mean automatic deletions with no hope of redemption via upvotes in the "void"?

I hope one of the moderators picks up on this mystery to let us know what happened to it.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/uphilldweller

Songve the only thing I can think of is copyright infringement?

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

It's possible but if so, then this post will also be deleted. It seems the same as the original.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thea210

@Songve. I would like it if you could post again re. “ discussing the amygdala and PTSD”.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Janet240859

I've noticed for the first time this week that slews of mails disappear every now and then - not individual ones, but a bunch that post consecutively, even though they have not all been downvoted at the same rate. Suspect a bug introduced with the myriad of other changes that have been introduced and backed out again during the same period.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

A week or so ago, Duolingo crashed and noted a bunch of posts went down with the ship.

For those who want to know if Duolingo is down and when it has been down, there's this: https://status.duolingo.com/

Note: You can use your cursor on the graphs to get individual details.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

Thea210 asked that I revisit "amygdala and PTSD" post I made to the first posting. Before I do, I "lost" a post when I replied to a streak post. It was encouraging and dealt with OP concern about learning a spoken language concurrently with British sign language. Anyway, what follows is the gist of my post.

Years ago, I discussed with a "Zen psychotherapist" friend/teacher who informed me of fMRI studies that confirmed that the amygdala underwent actual physical changes during combat and people who have been exposed to traumatic events. The amygdala are almond shaped areas in both hemispheres of the brain, and thought to be associated with experiencing emotions. I am not current in research so if anyone is, please clarify and correct me.

Whether by combat or traumatic event like being exposed to a mass shooting or abuse, a person may have immediate or delayed reactions that adversely affects one's mental health and functioning. Anxiety, depression, anger are some of the types of affects having physical changes to the amygdala. But the brain is plastic and work arounds may be discovered by involvement with a cognitive therapist, mindfulness meditation (scientifically proven to have an effect on the brain) and in some cases, medication. I am not a big believer in medication if alternatives are available, but if they are prescribed in conjunction with therapy, it could prevent the suffering of the person and those around them and help them function in personal, school and work life.

Only other thing I can think of that I discussed was my opinion that how the brain works regarding handling emotions should be taught in school starting when students are taught about physical hygiene. For too long, the delusion of separateness has been applied to the mind and body. They are really one working together.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/carolinashh

Medication should always be complemented with psychotherapy. For some mental disorders, combined therapy has the best outcome and should be the first-choice treatment. There are also so many people taking medication only, when psychotherapy alone is first-choice, it's unbelievable.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Songve

The health care system in the US could be so much better than it is. Some good psychiatrists have to spend an inordinate amount of time completing paperwork for insurance corporations at expense of seeing clients. So, drugs are over prescribed. GP's who proscribe meds without arranging therapy are also part of the problem. Then there are the well educated charlatans who discount all drugs, vaccines and eschew scientific evidence.

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Msanjose1

Songve - I just want to add to your list of issues in the US health care system. Pharmacetical companies give big incentives to doctors who give out samples of their new drugs to patients with the idea that the patients will later want to get a prescription for said new drug. With doctors being bought by pharmaceutical companies, how objective can we expect doctors to remain about their patients' care.

October 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scutigera

I'm sorry. What real evidence is there for anti-depressants? They are a huge money-maker for Big Pharma and they are addictive (meaning a lifetime of constant income for the patented pills) but studies show that placebo may actually be more effective. Lobbying is what works best here.

What has proven to be really effective is diet change which coupled with some other lifestyle choices (like getting more natural sun/or at least light therapy) and some exercise makes for a high success rate. Many mental issues are a result of food intolerances.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/well/eat/food-mood-depression-anxiety-nutrition-psychiatry.html

As Dr Kelly Brogan (a well-regarded psychiatrist who specializes in weaning people off of psychiatric drugs) says:

THERE ARE REAL REASONS FOR YOUR DEPRESSION, but a Prozac deficiency isn’t one of them.

https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Your-Own-Depression-Reclaim-ebook/dp/B00ZP5WLNY

https://kellybroganmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/ChangeYourFoodHealYourMoodEBook.pdf

However, there is no pill or other treatment that will "fix" someone in an intolerable situation such as living with an abusive partner or extreme poverty.


Science now is just as manipulated as politicians:

https://theconversation.com/declaring-vaccine-hesitancy-one-of-the-ten-biggest-health-threats-in-2019-is-unhelpful-123628

Vaccine makers have zero culpability in the US so they can put anything in a vaccine and not worry about what damage is caused.

https://choice.npr.org/index.html?origin=https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/02/22/133964322/supreme-court-upholds-liability-shield-for-vaccine-makers

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Msanjose1

Scutigera - I don't know why your post has received the number of downvotes that it has, but for what it's worth, I agree that anti-depressants do not work for the large majority of people who take them. Thanks for your posts and links. Lingot for you.

October 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Msanjose1

Songve - Thanks for reposting. Lingot for you.

October 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/uphilldweller

Practicing speaking with other people seems to be a theme...

"...immersive learning of a second language increased neuroplasticity..."

"...The evidence uncovered suggests that learning and using multiple languages induces changes in brain anatomy including functional neural patterns..."

Duolingo helps us learn alas for interaction in our late acquired languages we must look elsewhere.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roji-and-Salsa

Three of the most valuable activities to help develop brain skills or to stay young in your older days are learning a new language, learning a new instrument or singing and learning new dance steps.

There are a lot of studies which show that all those three increase the neuroplasticity of the brain, no matter how old you are, and even can help to avoid getting some sort of dementia.

My father was at age 92 still doing his duolingo sessions every day and communicating with other learners. When the communication part (activity streams) were closed down he stop using Duolingo because communicating was part of the fun.

Specially learning a language and learning an instrument train the brain in a similiar way.

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacobBarides

That's amazing that he was doing Duolingo at 92. Thanks for sharing!

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/corgi.

Amazing. When I procrastinate my other responsibilities to learn language, I tend to feel guilty, but I can now find solace with the knowledge that I'm just prepping my brain to absorb all my other coursework more easily. Thanks for the fascinating article Jacob!

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bagobones

I started learning Spanish to combat brainfog i got when I quit smoking. Google told me it was the right thing to do. I have no practical need to know Spanish. But it does work. It kind of feels like going to the gym, just for the brain. I have also started with math after it was recommended and started playig ukulele. Math and playing an instrument is suppose to have the same benefits.

BTW, I play the ukulele with my spanish language partner.. :)

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacobBarides

That's great! Thanks for sharing!

October 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kelvin401862

Thanks for this very interesting information.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MelindaBel14

Fascinating! Thanks for posting. My brain thanks you.

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnomalousCowherd

Thank you! I missed this the first time around, so I'm glad to have had an opportunity to read it. Absolutely fascinating.

I also read recently, somewhere out there on t'Interwebz, of a minor drawback to learning multiple languages - that of "top of the tongue" syndrome, when you can't quite remember the word you want to use. Apparently the more languages you learn the more frequently you are likely to experience this phenomenon, and the more likely you are to pick up the right word in the wrong language. I've certainly noticed this occasionally (speaking English, a bit of conversational French, and very basic Welsh), but it would explain a problem my grandma had in her last few years.

Grandma spoke four languages fluently, and could switch between them more or less at will. As she got older she would often grasp for a word and then eventually select the right word but in the wrong language. She would then continue merrily on in the other language, unaware of the switch, until she noticed the blank expressions on everyone's faces and realised what she had done.

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germalinga

Absolutely fascinating and very informative. Thank you for posting.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JarsonBrenner

Thanks by your informations!

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jeancharlesco

Kia ora for the post (from Aotearoa New Zealand)

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YutYut2

I just wonder if only studying languages has the consequences you are talking about. I don't think so. You can also train your brain by other things: math, music, drawing, chess and etc (even computer games). Languages have amazing results, but I think that not only they can change homo brain.

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GingerSquare

True! Math definitely has a written language of its own. Studying math involves learning to think logically and communicate in math notation. I have seen university programs that require study of a foreign language but will accept certain math courses in lieu of the foreign language courses.

(I teach math, and I see many parallels between what helps me learn Spanish and what I recommend my students do to learn algebra.)

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JacobBarides

True. Sometimes I do math in my second/third language to make it even more challenging.

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Msanjose1

GingerSquare - In case you haven't already, please check out a recent post by Judit294350 regarding combining ancient languages and mathematics. https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/34351211

October 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GingerSquare

Yes, I did see that. Very interesting! Thanks!

October 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ivona55555

The human brain is a powerful tool. There's so much we don't know about it yet, but what we do know is quite fascinating. Thanks for this amazing post :)

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZeatheBeast

Thanks for sharing! Both of my paternal grandparents have AD. I read similar articles regarding plasticity retention and using cognitive exercises as intervention in the early stages of the disease. I actually decided to start learning on DUO for this very reason. I do not have AD but figured it's never to early to exercise the mind!

October 4, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/luckyblaze

neuroplasticity is S E X Y. so is thinking. so is the alphabet. language rocks. thank you for your post (and the previous one i never saw). wishing you a happy day from the great state of mind called san francisco!

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PERCE_NEIGE

Thank you for this repost!

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RachelSela3

this is really cool. hope it works for me ;)

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LuoDinga

thank you for this. :)

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Msanjose1

JacobBarides - Thanks for posting this and opening up the dialogue regarding this topic. Ten lingots for you.

October 6, 2019
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