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Bilingualism Fine-tunes Hearing, Enhances Attention

A novel study provides the first biological evidence that bilinguals' rich experience with language in essence "fine-tunes" their auditory nervous system and helps them juggle linguistic input in ways that enhance attention and working memory.

Northwestern University bilingualism expert Viorica Marian teamed up with auditory neuroscientist Nina Kraus to investigate how bilingualism affects the brain. In particular, they looked at subcortical auditory regions that are bathed with input from cognitive brain areas. In extensive research, Kraus has already shown that lifelong music training enhances language processing, and an examination of subcortical auditory regions helped to tell that tale. The researchers found the experience of bilingualism changes how the nervous system responds to sound.

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