As a polyglot (haha I love using that word), a lot of my friends always ask me whether I have to translate between two languages when I’m thinking and speaking or if I just think in the language that I am communicating in. My answer has always been that I usually just think in the different language, but I didn’t understand the neurological reason that as to why I thought this. Until now!! Researchers from the University of Arizona were able to show that rather than calibrating to different tones and languages, those of us who were born to learn multiple languages process these languages in different regions of the brain. Scientists, specifically looked at the “pa” vs. “ba” variation in Spanish which are perceived to be the same by monolingual English speakers. Compared to control (monolingual English speakers) the bilingual participants in the study labled the ‘pa’ vs. “ba” sound differently when told which language they were about to hear. I think it’s interesting that the research is showing that rather than having a dominant language (which was the competing theory), bilinguals can switch back and forth between two languages just like people with either language as their primary mode of communication. Polyglots are definitely fancy!
(I think my description of the controls is a little hazy, but if you are interested you should check out the link from sciencedaily: