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Speaking more than one language makes you smarter: Bilingual people have more grey matter than those who only know their mother tongue

Maisie already knows English and Persian and a bit of Tagalog (Filipino).  I have one person in the house who has exclusively spoken Farsi (Persian) to her since she was 4 months old. She can respond/answer in both languages interchangeably. My mother and I add a few Filipino words here and there…

It’s official! Speaking more than one language makes you smarter: Bilingual people have more grey matter than those who only know their mother tongue

  • Being bilingual increases the grey matter in certain parts of the brain
  • This difference is not present if the other language known is sign language
  • Management of two spoken languages leads to cognitive advantages 

People who speak two or more languages have more grey matter in certain parts of their brain, a study has found.

But this difference is not present if the other language known is sign language.

Scientists found that being bilingual increases the size of the part of the brain responsible for attention span and short term memory.

A study by Georgetown University Medical Centre found adults who are polyglots have more grey matter, shown above in blue, but those who used sign language did not (file image)

A study by Georgetown University Medical Centre found adults who are polyglots have more grey matter, shown above in blue, but those who used sign language did not (file image)

In the past it had been thought children who spoke two languages could have been at a disadvantage because the presence of two vocabularies would lead to delayed language development.

But recent research has found they perform better on tasks that require attention, inhibition and short-term memory – collectively termed ‘executive control’ – than their monolingual peers.

Yet controversy still surrounded whether there was a ‘bilingual advantage’, because these differences were not observed in all studies.

Now a study by Georgetown University Medical Centre in Washington DC has found adults who are polyglots have more grey matter, but those who use sign language do not.

The management of two spoken languages, rather than simply a larger vocabulary observed in practitioners of sign language, improved cognitive performance. Above, a mother and child practice signing (file image) 

The management of two spoken languages, rather than simply a larger vocabulary observed in practitioners of sign language, improved cognitive performance. Above, a mother and child practice signing (file image)

It adds to a growing understanding of how long-term experience with a particular skill – in this case management of two languages – changes the brain.

Dr Guinevere Eden said: ‘Inconsistencies in the reports about the bilingual advantage stem primarily from the variety of tasks that are used in attempts to elicit the advantage.

‘Given this concern, we took a different approach and instead compared grey matter volume between adult bilinguals and monolinguals.

‘We reasoned that the experience with two languages and the increased need for cognitive control to use them appropriately would result in brain changes in Spanish-English bilinguals when compared with English-speaking monolinguals.

‘And in fact greater grey matter for bilinguals was observed in frontal and parietal brain regions that are involved in executive control.’

The study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, explored why differences in grey matter are based on experiences.

Dr Olumide Olulade said: ‘Our aim was to address whether the constant management of two spoken languages leads to cognitive advantages and the larger grey matter we observed in Spanish-English bilinguals, or whether other aspects of being bilingual, such as the large vocabulary associated with having two languages, could account for this.’

Researchers compared the grey matter in bilinguals of both American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English, with that of monolingual users of English.

Both ASL-English and Spanish-English bilinguals share qualities associated with bilingualism, such as vocabulary size.

Unlike bilinguals of two spoken languages, ASL-English bilinguals can sign and speak simultaneously, allowing the researchers to test whether the need to inhibit the other language might explain the bilingual advantage.

Dr Olulade added: ‘Unlike the findings for the Spanish-English bilinguals, we found no evidence for greater grey matter in the ASL-English bilinguals.

‘Thus we conclude that the management of two spoken languages in the same modality, rather than simply a larger vocabulary, leads to the differences we observed in the Spanish-English bilinguals.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3164163/It-s-official-Speaking-one-language-makes-smarter-Bilingual-people-grey-matter-know-mother-tongue.html#ixzz3g8SxjWj8

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Tips, Ideas, ANY ADVICE NEEDED! My once-placid baby has turned into a screaming, crying diva this week!

this was once such a rare occurrence that I snapped this photo just to prove that she cried sometimes

this was once such a rare occurrence that I snapped these photos just to prove that she cried sometimes

I am losing my effing MIND.

Once upon a time, I had a baby who rarely cried. She smiled and coo’d and was almost ALWAYS agreeable. She napped twice a day and slept (mostly) through the night. She laughed and amused herself. She was SUPER social, loved being around lots of people. It was so unusual for her to cry that I even snapped a picture of her doing so once, just to show people. She was the PERFECT baby.

That was until last week when she turned 10 months old. She is STILL super social, but now she CRIES AND BEGS FOR ME TO PICK HER UP CONSTANTLY. Her shriek is so high pitched, it could break windows.

To add more fuel to the fire, I’ve been told by my doctor that I cannot pick her up for six weeks because my back is out- I haven’t complied. I just pop a pill and grin through the pain.

I’ve done EVERYTHING that the new-fangled attachment parenting books tell you to do (and mostly the opposite of how her brothers were raised 2 decades ago).

-she never ‘cried it out’
-I sleep within arm’s reach of her, her pack n play is next to my bed.
-when I attempted the ‘baby led weaning’ stuff, she decided to wean herself to curries and pizza
-she fell asleep every time with a simple “Frere Jacques” lullabye and some classical music in the background

All of this worked (and worked well) until this last week when she MORPHED into a demanding, crying, fit-throwing, entourage-needing diva.

It started with a BANG.

I am never called by my full name (Jessica). Never. It’s ALWAYS “Jess” or “Mom” or what-have-you.

Somehow I ticked Maisie off last week and did not come to her fast enough and was rewarded with her SCREAMING “JESSSSS-IIII-CAAAA!!!” clearly and OVER AND OVER.

I was shocked.

FIRST of all, how in the HELL does this child even know my first name?!

Secondly, where did she learn to throw a fit like that?????!

the struggle is real

the struggle is real

Suddenly, every time someone would leave the room, she’d SCREAM LIKE IT WAS A PERSONAL AFFRONT TO HER.

If folks walked by our house, with their strollers and dogs- perfect strangers, mind you- she’d lose her SHIT. “How DARE they not stop by the house?!”

she calls out to strangers who walk by our house and tries to make friends

she calls out to strangers who walk by our house and tries to make friends- this time it worked.

Yes, I KNOW this must be the ‘separation anxiety’ stage, but DAMN.

The struggle is real.

I want to preface this by saying I am NOT the most patient person I know. I wish I was. I am much better than I was with my older boys, this is certain. Older age has some benefits.

If my parents are here, sitting on my front porch, she will insist that they sing to her while she dazzles them with her superior dancing skills- this kid is a dancing fool and she can’t even WALK. Unless Papa walks away to get coffee or pee, she’s perfectly happy and all smiles.

If I tell her I will dress her up and ‘go to Aunt —‘s house’, she stops long enough to get a pretty dress on, to fuss in the mirror, and ask for lipstick, too (I am NOT KIDDING. SHE’S 10 MONTHS OLD AND DOING THIS!).

My cousin Morgan, who is a SAINT, came over yesterday (and stayed til 3 am) and helped out by singing/playing guitar/helping me get her to bed- and by making me drink some wine to calm my frazzled nerves. Maisie was dancing and singing and enjoying herself, as usual.

Honestly, I CANNOT throw a cocktail party or a hootenanny every time this kid is bored. It’s just not a do-able thing.

Morgan has three sons, who are roughly around the age of my youngest boy. They are wonderful, well-adjusted, loving children.

Morgan: “You know, letting her cry a little bit and soothe herself won’t kill her…”

She proceeded to instruct me on leaving for 5 minutes, then coming back, and repeating, yadda.

My rational mind can agree and comprehend this, but my irrational mommy bits say:

“OMG, you horrible mother, pick her up and FIX THIS!”

At the same time, my brain is ALSO screaming:

“If I don’t walk out of this room RIGHT.THE.FUCK.NOW. I WILL THROW MYSELF OUT OF THE NEAREST WINDOW”

I guess you could say I had forgotten about this part of child-rearing.

When I did as Morgan instructed- Maisie miraculously fell asleep within FIVE MINUTES.

I think a few things are going on here, besides the separation anxiety part:

– She’s teething. Baby Motrin, little teething tablets, a teething necklace- I’m doing all of it.
– She IS a little spoiled.
– She’s bored (I think this is a huge part)

As my dad said, when he first witnessed her meltdowns (and I’m paraphrasing here):

Papa:  “I was wondering when this was going to happen.  It was inevitable.”

To ANY parents/grandparents/people who are reading this:

HOW DO *YOU* (or DID you) handle this type of thing/separation anxiety phase?

I’ve received great advice on distractions, toys, and other things I could give her in lieu of carrying her around from a few friends. I am in serious need of input. Any advice would be INCREDIBLY APPRECIATED.

UPDATES:

Found some terrific articles online that I will be trying out ASAP.
If any readers out there are in the same boat as me, they’ve given me a glimmer of (sane) hope!

On the “screaming phase”
http://alphamom.com/parenting/baby/the-screaming-phase/
 

“Why your 9 month old is so difficult all of a sudden”

http://babyshrink.com/2010/why-your-9-month-old-baby-is-so-difficult-all-of-a-sudden 

0

Parenting After 40: Nostalgia and Raising Baby on the Front Porch…

View of my hammock and front porch... where we spend most of our time

View of my hammock and front porch… where we spend most of our time

Raising a child these days is so different from when I had my ‘first brood’ of three sons 26-17 yrs ago. Life is so much faster, more ‘plugged in’ than it was when my boys were young.  All of the ‘mommy friends’ I have now are about the same age or a wee bit older than my oldest son. We make playdates, talk online, or text on Facebook. Other mothers discuss phone/tablet apps and other electronic entertainments for their kids- which leaves me a bit overwhelmed. I remember a slower, more face-to-face time- and I miss it.

I live in a huge 102 yr old house on the corner of a semi-busy residential street- not far from the beach and downtown. I’ve owned this house for many years and raised Maisie’s older brothers here. It is always in flux, always in a state of renovation or some sort of pleasant (and sometimes unpleasant) chaos. We have very little yard, so I utilize every square inch of it, gardening even the city tree lawn. I grow veggies in raised beds and roses everywhere else. We own three lazy, gigantic Newfoundland dogs who are always snoring away in some odd corner.

Miss Maisie with Tiberius, one of our newfs.

Miss Maisie with Tiberius, one of our newfs.

My favorite part of this house is the wide front porch-where people who visit sit, smoke (if they smoke, because I don’t allow that in my house), drink coffee, and chat till late in the summer evenings. Maisie plays on it and has a small swing she loves. I have a hammock addiction and hung one in the front, too. I love to lounge with the baby there on warmer summer days.

this is how Maisie meets new friends- she calls out to the moms pushing their strollers down the street...

this is how Maisie meets new friends- she calls out to the moms pushing their strollers down the street…

People ask me why I’d spend so much time in the FRONT of my house, where it is so public… I like people watching (and I also have no backyard to speak of). It reminds me of my childhood, when people were not so hidden away from each other.

sharing bread from the farmer's market up the street with her grandfather

sharing bread from the farmer’s market up the street with her grandfather

My family is loud and friendly and argumentative and we spend most of our summer days and nights out there, probably to the chagrin of our neighbors. Nowadays folks cloister themselves away in their houses or backyards, unless they’re walking dogs or pushing strollers. My family is one of the few in my neighborhood who use their front porch as a living space.

where most of the action happens

where most of the action happens

When I was a child, I grew up not far from where I lived now. In those days, it was common to see people outside on their porches in the evenings. Children played on the sidewalks, rode their bikes.  Parents and grandparents worked in their gardens. Neighbors laughed and talked after supper. Women would hang their wash in the backyards. Everything was noisier and more ALIVE.

I still do most of those things. Most folks do not. It makes me sad.

The stillness and silence of these neighborhood streets is so unnatural to those of us who remember how it used to be.

the town I live in- and where I grew up- circa 1950s-60s.  We used to have a very famous amusement park here.

the town I live in- and where I grew up- circa 1950s-60s. We used to have a very famous amusement park that was torn down in the early 1970s.

Only when our town has festivals or fireworks or something similar does it come alive again. Our population swells with the FIPs (that’s Michigander for “Fucking Illinois/Indiana People) and out of townies who become weekend/vacation residents. A lot of people complain about these times, but I don’t. I love it when I can see humans out and moving and not hiding away inside their homes like Mole People.

Maisie and one of her front porch fashion shows

Maisie and one of her front porch fashion shows

I love raising Maisie on our front porch, watching her try to interact with her grandparents and friends and other family members.  Our world is so different now- people are less connected, more plugged in to the virtual world. I want her to learn to socialize and to say “Hi!” and wave to the folks who pass by on the street. I want my child to understand what life can be without the internet and iPads and all the other things that children these days rely upon for entertainment.

I think this is one benefit of being a mother over 40.  I remember what childhood used to be like and want my daughter to celebrate and enjoy the simpler things- like connecting with loved ones on summer days on a front porch.

Other new parents over 40:

How do you think your parenting style differs from younger parents?  

Feel free to leave a message in the comments section.