Short-term language learning ups mental agility

London, April 28 (IANS) One week of learning a new language can boost your mental skills, suggests a new research adding that benefits could also be maintained with regular practice.

Tests carried out on students of all ages revealed that acquiring a new language improves a person’s attention in just a week.

Improvements in attention were found in both groups participating in intensive courses after a week, but only those learning a second language were significantly better than those not involved in any courses.

Also, the improvement was found for all ages, which demonstrates the benefits of language learning also in later life.

“I think there are three important messages from our study: firstly, it is never too late to start a novel mental activity such as learning a new language. Secondly, even a short intensive course can show beneficial effects on some cognitive functions. Thirdly, this effect can be maintained through practice,” said led researcher, Thomas Bak from the University of Edinburgh in Britain.

For the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers assessed different aspects of mental alertness in a group of 33 students aged 18 to 78 who had taken part in a one-week Scottish Gaelic course.

The team tracked people’s attention levels with a series of listening tests including the ability to concentrate on certain sounds and switch the attention to filter relevant information.

They compared the results with those of people who had completed a one-week course — but not involving learning a new language — and with a group who had not completed any course.

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