Studies on infant brains have shown that knowledge retention is only possible when accompanied with personal interaction or activity, but this becomes even more important as people get older.
Adults must be socially stimulated to learn, which is why language retention is usually only successful for adults when they are immersed with other language-speakers. Bilingual people “build new bridges” in the brain, says Dr. Kuhl, a University of Washington professor and co-author of a recent study on social learning, and their brains are constantly adapting and reshuffling data as they translate. “Bilingual people aren’t cognitively smarter, but they are more cognitively flexible,” she added. “Practice at constant switching improves an aspect of their cognitive abilities. They become more facile at adjusting to new situations and inventing new situations.”
This is much like what people do when they’re updating their Twitter status, instant-messaging friends, or answering text messages and emails while they’re doing something else. Dr. Kuhl said this multitasking, where people are stimulating new patterns of sequential processing, could then reap the same benefits as bilingualism. This according to a post on the Wall Street Journal’s blog titled Social Media’s Effect on Learning by Maureen Scarpelli.