According to new research published in the journal NeuroImage, a group of cadets from the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy were carefully observed as they learned a completely new language within 13 months; and the cognitive observations are astounding. Make no mistake though, the speed learning program was intense. The new recruits studied morning, noon, and night - seven days per week.
The cadets were then compared with medical and neuroscience students who also engaged in collegiate studies, but who were not studying a new language. MRI brain scans were taken of both groups just prior to the onset of the language learning program, as well as following a three-month period as the language studies were underway. The scans revealed that the brain structure of the control group, the non-language learners, went unchanged, while certain parts of the brain in the new language learner group actually grew.
More specifically, the hippocampus and several areas of the cerebral cortex appeared to grow. Researchers aren't entirely certain why these areas of the brain appeared to expand, however previous research indicates that language learning may hold positive health benefits in preventing certain neurological diseases. For instance, previous research on Alzheimer's patients showed that bilingual and multilinguagl individuals appear to only develop the disease at a significantly later age compared to monolingual patients who developed the neurological disease earlier.