Have you tried learning something like a foreign language, dancing or learning to drive? You have realized that the beginnings are often difficult or even sometimes very difficult. What’s wrong? Nothing! Know that a difficult start is completely normal. It’s part of the learning process. It is true that depending on their profile, some will have more or less ease.
The key is to persevere. The more you persevere, the easier the brain will gradually learn.
The brain changes
The brain is not immutable, never programmed for life, or only doomed to atrophy. On the contrary, it is endowed with great plasticity and evolves constantly according to the experiences that we live. Under certain conditions, new cells can even appear at any age.
We often hear it explained that it is genes that determine behavior, which could raise fears that all evolution is impossible. In reality, the genes are content to structure the potentialities and the weak points of the personality, they do not dictate the thoughts, neither the feelings, nor the behavior. You can activate or deactivate them at will by changing its behavior and its environment.
And in doing so, the brain changes.
The old debate between innate and acquired, nature and culture, has given way to a new model: cultivated nature. Just as the concepts of nature and culture are too often mistakenly opposed, the mind and the brain have also been considered as separate entities. These are just two sides of the same coin. Any change of state of mind brings about a change in the brain, and vice versa.
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Learning something new rewires the brain
You can maintain the brain by developing its potential and minimizing its vulnerabilities. In other words, one can modify one’s biology by one’s actions and thoughts, of course within the limited potential of our species.
You can’t live 200 years or fly like a bird, but you can potentially live beyond average life expectancy by optimizing your health for the rest of your life. And you can keep your brain sharp until old age.
Learning something new rewires the brain by creating and strengthening synaptic connections. For example, if we think of a beautiful landscape, such as a village in the Cinque Terre in Italy, you build new synaptic connections between groups of neurons that record the image in memory. Whenever you remember this image, you reinforce it.
How does bilingualism affect babies?
Learning two languages from birth is an asset for children, especially their brains. Indeed, bilingual babies have more activity than their monolingual peers in the brain regions associated with executive functions, according to an American study published in the journal Developmental Science. These correspond to the capacities necessary for a person to adapt to new situations, direct his attention to several elements or solve complex problems.
Greater brain flexibility
The images reveal that bilingual children have increased activity in the prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex, which are involved in the decision-making process, in attention, compared to babies immersed only in the English language. Furthermore, the results show that bilinguals react the same way when they hear English or Spanish, which shows that they learn these two languages equally.
For their part, the bilingual children seem to be more open to sounds they do not know, which is beneficial and shows a capacity for adaptation. ” Thus children raised in a multilingual family seem to be advantaged in learning new languages.
This work confirms numerous studies suggesting that bilingualism is not a handicap for children. Quite the contrary. This ability to understand and speak several languages is an asset for these children. If parents are often worried, it is because bilingual children sometimes mix several languages in the same sentence, especially when they start to learn to read.
The myth of the “novelty of bilingualism” persisted until the late 1990s, without any serious scientific basis. The doubts rested on the fact that it was not known whether the child would manage to speak both languages well in the same way, and whether the fact of mixing them would not hinder the good development of his language. The child will effectively mix and speak the two languages around the age of 4. Then, naturally, he will use each of the languages learned in his early childhood wisely.
Learning a new language is great, whatever the age!