Babies are whizzes at taking in new information, especially when it comes to languages. At the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, they are studying how infants’ brain activity in response to language relates to their later speaking ability.

The research goes beyond learning languages though. They’re interested in what makes young brains so capable of absorbing new information, which could reveal how to maintain learning throughout life.

Their most recent studies investigate the brains of babies being raised in bilingual households. In these situations, babies’ brains have a lot to take in – how do they make sense of the new words in two languages?

Here are some of their findings so far:

1. Brains of bilingual babies remain open to language learning.

In their latest study, they found that the brains of the bilingual infants seemed to remain “open” to learning for a longer period of time compared to monolingual infants. Because we now know that the early brain wiring appears to be different for monolinguals and bilinguals within the first year of life, it emphasizes just how important it is to have high quality interactions and input from the start. In fact, they also found that the more the children heard in that language as infants, the larger their vocabulary was later.

This piece has been truncated. Read the full piece at Education Nation’s The Learning Curve.

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