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Multilingualism and music both enhance intellectual performance

Hello Michael, My mom always told me that because me and my brother were raised simultaneously in three languages (that is Persian, Swedish and French), both of us had to split our vocal energy in three channels, whereas my Swedish pre-school mates where always slightly advanced in their single Swedish mother tongue. When we grew older, we simply considered our tri-linguistic capability as keys to open a door to some additional spheres of kids excitement. In addition to the talking and playing with the other kids in prep-school, we could also sing with our parents french children songs and listen to old-persian fairy-tales when we visited Grandma in Tehran. Throughout the years, however, these advantages lost their relevance more and more: now one can read almost everything in translations, and my music taste has changed a lot, away from french childrens songs more to contemporary music. And if I listen to Persian music now, it is more for the rhythm and the melodies which I like, rather than for the lyrics. Sometimes I was already asking myself if the three languages we grew up with would have really any long-term benefit for me, in particular now when English seems to be the dominating tool for worldwide communication. Sure, it was always suggested that people who grew up in a multilingual environment (like in bi-national families) have some general advantages in life-long learning and communication, that they perform better in various neurological tests, and that it is easier for them to learn new languages even later in life. It was not clear, however, to what degree other social factors such as higher educational level in such families or their intention to provide these kids with additional skills and training might have biased such a finding. In a recent paper by Krizman and co-workers from Northwestern University, Evanston IL, published in PNAS it could be shown, that bilinguals had a specifically increased ability to differentiate between simultaneously sounding auditory objects. The perception of an auditory source is considered a key element in the ability to learn in a concentrated manner. It considerably increases the tolerance of a person against disturbances from external sources while concentrating on a subject. Their study also showed that the neural enhancements observed in multitalker babble intersect with bilinguals’ known advantages in cognitive control and are similar to advantages seen in musicians. The continuously manipulating sounds across two languages leads to an expertise in how sound is encoded in the bilingual brain. In both groups of auditory experts (i.e., musicians and bilinguals), enhanced experience with sound results in an auditory system that is highly efficient, flexible and focused in its automatic sound processing, especially in challenging or novel listening conditions. Thus, converging evidence from both musicians and bilinguals points to subcortical plasticity as providing a biological basis for advantages in real-world experiences with sound. Didn't you came up last year with this theory that the sounds and music the unborn child hears in the mothers womb can have a profund effect onto his mental development ? So if we all hear music from iPod or MP3 player any more, should not at least the pregnant woman expose themself and their unborn baby to some real good sound, like going to a concert or a music club ? Well, I guess this all depends on the mothers taste (which than coins the taste of its kids). Take good Care /ghazal

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