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Language experience changes language and cognitive ability

Spracherfahrung verändert sprachliche und kognitive Fähigkeiten

Abstract

The sustained use of two languages by bilinguals has been shown to induce broad changes in language and cognitive abilities across the lifespan. The largest changes are seen as advantages in executive control, a set of processes responsible for controlled attention, inhibition, and shifting. Moreover, there is evidence that these executive control advantages mitigate cognitive decline in older age and contribute to cognitive reserve. In this paper, we examine some of the evidence for these findings and explain their relation to bilingual language use. These effects are considered in terms of their implications for our understanding of cognitive and brain plasticity. Some implications for social policy are discussed.

Zusammenfassung

Der kontinuierliche Gebrauch beider Sprachen bilingualer Menschen hat sich als Anstoß für weitreichende Veränderungen der sprachlichen und kognitiven Fähigkeiten über die Lebenszeit erwiesen. Als bedeutendste Veränderungen werden Vorteile bei der exekutiven Kontrolle gesehen, also eines Systems von Prozessen, das verantwortlich ist für die Kontrolle der Aufmerksamkeit, das Setzen von Zielen und Prioritäten oder das Initiieren und Sequenzieren von Sprachhandlungen. Es gibt starke Hinweise darauf, dass die Vorteile der exekutiven Kontrolle auch eine Abschwächung des Abbaus kognitiver Fähigkeiten im Alter zur Folge haben und zur Ausbildung der Fähigkeit des Gehirns beitragen, Schädigungen zu überwinden kann. In unserem Beitrag setzen wir uns mit Forschungsergebnissen zu diesen Problemen auseinander und erläutern die Zusammenhänge, die sich mit bilingualem Sprachgebrauch zeigen. Die entsprechenden Effekte werden unter dem Gesichtspunkt betrachtet, welche Implikationen sich für das Verstehen kognitiver und neuronaler Plastizität ergeben. Ferner werden gesellschaftspolitische Implikationen angesprochen.

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Correspondence to Ellen Bialystok Ph.D..

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Bialystok, E., Poarch, G. Language experience changes language and cognitive ability. Z Erziehungswiss 17, 433–446 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11618-014-0491-8

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Keywords

  • Aging
  • Attention
  • Bilingualism
  • Cognitive ability
  • Cognitive and brain plasticity
  • Executive control

Schlüsselwörter

  • Bilingualität
  • Exekutive Kontrolle
  • Aufmerksamkeit
  • Kognitive Fähigkeiten
  • Altern
  • Kognitive und neuronale Plastizität