By peering into students’ brains, a recent study, published in the journal NeuroImage, found that learning languages can help bulk up the brain.

The researchers, from Lund University, compared the brains of students from the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy, who become fluent in languages within 13 months, to science students at Umeå University, who also study hard.

They took MRI scans before and after a three-month period of studying for these two groups of students. The brains of the science students did not change or grow but the brains of the language students experienced growth in areas of their cerebral cortex, which is related to language, and in their hippocampus, which is involved in learning new things.

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