Friday, December 12, 2014

The Bilingual Brain: Thoughts

I found out from The Bilingual Brain* by Arturo E. Hernandez that language development continues to happen until the 40’s. The left temporal lobe of our brain, which is involved in language, seems to show maturation up to age 40.

One more interesting finding is that when we are wee babies, our brains produce more brain cells (or neurons) than when we are adults. Naturally, there are more connections between these over-produced neurons (or synapses). We have lots of these little guys at our disposal ready for connection and ready to communicate with each other, AND check this out—because of the overproduction, the neurons and synapses actually get pruned back. They get reduced.

After watching this 18-minute lecture video, my brain went into hyper mode. So, okay... Nature does it this way: first the overproduction, then the pruning. I became very hopeful and immediately link this to my language projects and the various other stuff I'm working on. Here's what I'm thinking...

What does this mean? Two facts are in our hands: language maturation up to age 40, and overproduction of neurons and synapses being pruned and reduced on-the-go as we age. This means, for language lovers, GO FOR IT! Learn that language (or those languages) you’ve always been wanting to. Slow down the pruning! Build more “connections” (for the brain and for your network).

Speaking of network, here’s a nice little graphic I found on the Internet. It's a mind map on neurons and synapses.

Source: 1001 ways to learn

Networking happens, too, in your brain and mine! Physiologically (our bodily functions; for example, our brains in this post) or physically where we build social and professional networks in our lives. My take is, use these neurons! Prevent further decline! Work with nature to create our best self and mind!

From a very young age, I have always love languages and will always love languages. I have made it my life mission to continue to feed the fire and satisfy my curiosity in world languages. I may not be a professional linguist but when I am able to communicate well and connect with the people in the world I’m living in, I consider myself a success. (It's a bonus, too, if I do turn into a linguist!)

*More about The Bilingual Brain: This is a free course on Coursera (if you haven't tried Coursera you must, and you have nothing to lose!). The lectures are given by Professor Arturo E. Hernandez from the University of Houston System. The course examines the three issues are age of acquisition, language proficiency, and cognitive control. Click here for course details.

This course explores the brain bases of bilingualism by discussing literature relevant to differences in age of initial learning, proficiency, and control in the nonverbal, single language and dual-language literature. Participants will learn about the latest research related to how humans learn one or two languages and other cognitive skills.

Related Post: My First Coursera Certificate


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