It seems some people just have a knack for learning new languages (and a new study agrees), according to CBS News, but don’t worry if you aren’t that great at asking “Where is the bathroom,” while on vacation in Mexico. Just giving it a try will add to your brain power.
“We know that if the learning of a new language is successful, key brain regions responsible for handling languages will become activated,” Li told CBS News. “But we don’t know how these different regions are connected with each other as a network.”
In the study, published in the Journal of Neurolinguistics, researchers asked 23 of the 39 test subjects to study Chinese vocabulary over the course of six weeks. Participants’ brains were scanned prior to and after the language study.
Those with the best-connected brains had an easier time learning the Chinese words, according to CBS News. Understanding of these connections could benefit scientists in the future. While researchers are unsure how stress, motivation or other factors affect someone’s ability to learn a second language, they do know that bilingual people can ward off dementia longer than unilingual people.
“This could be due to the constant everyday uses of multiple languages, which involves efforts from a lot of brain regions and their connections,” Li told CBS News.
What if you can’t roll your Rs or you just don’t have time aprender español? “If you can’t learn a new language, doing other cognitively challenging activities could be equally useful to the brain, although they may train only one or a few parts of your brain, unlike language learning,” Li told CBS News.
Taking a class, playing a board game, doing puzzles or working on the Sunday morning newspaper’s crossword and Sudoku could help.