423 Bilingual Infants and Attention
Research by D’Souza, Dean, Brady, Daniel, Haensel, Jennifer X., & D’Souza, Hana
Written by Robin N. Fatovic B.S.
Speaking multiple languages aids communication when visiting other countries or even in our multi ethnic country. Bilingual speakers and pre-language infants raised in bilingual homes also show other mental benefits, too. Why is that?
Psychologist Dean D’Souza and colleagues used a specialized camera to track eye movements of fifty-one bilingual and fifty-one monolingual infants during different visual computer exercises. Results showed that the infants raised in bilingual homes switched their visual attention faster and easier.
The researchers believe that infants in bilingual homes are better at scanning and exploring their environments because they live in more stimulating, unpredictable settings due to the changing languages spoken in the home. Therefore, these infants may be more alert to their environment to gain new information instead of focusing on what is already familiar, since they are more likely to hear words that they are unaware of in the home and need to learn them to communicate and predict.
There are more benefits to being bilingual than just communicating cross-culturally. Consider learning a new language to improve your cognitive facility. Talk to your infants all the time, share your thoughts, their brains will grow more rapidly!
D’souza, D., Brady, D., Haensel, J. X., & D’souza, H. (2020). Is mere exposure enough? The effects of bilingual environments on infant cognitive development. Royal Society Open Science,7(2), 180191. doi:10.1098/rsos.180191