Can bilingual humor really make you smarter? Consider the evidence. Numerous studies have shown that being bilingual can increase brain capacity, plus ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to Ellen Bialystok, a psychologist at York University in Toronto, “Being bilingual has certain cognitive benefits and boosts the performance of the brain, especially one of the most important areas known as the executive control system.”
Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, tested cognitive abilities in seniors and found that bilingual seniors performed significantly better, with efficient brain activity comparable to much younger people.
Humor is also known to impact brain function. Educator Dr. David Sortino writes that “One little secret that brain scientists have known for some time is that humor is the brain’s natural stimulant because it has shown to increase greater learning and intelligence.” A good laugh pulls in more oxygen and releases endorphins, which helps with attention levels and makes us more receptive to new information.
Given the benefits of both bilingualism and humor, could there be an even greater impact by combining the two? This whole train of thought was inspired by a recent Twitter “conversation” with Dr. Andrew Chesnut, a professor and author of Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, The Skeleton Saint.