Click here to close now.


News Feed Item

Singaporean Birth Cohort Study Finds Benefits for Babies Exposed to Two Languages

Six-month old infants spoken to in two languages show better learning and memory than infants exposed to one language

Figure 1: Image of a child going through the visual habituation test
SINGAPORE, Sept 2, 2014 - (ACN Newswire) - A team of investigators and clinician-scientists in Singapore and internationally have found that there are advantages associated with exposure to two languages in infancy. As part of a long-term birth cohort study of Singaporean mothers and their offspring called GUSTO - seminally a tripartite project between A*STAR's Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS), KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) and the National University Hospital (NUH) - (see Annex A), six-month old bilingual infants recognised familiar images faster than those brought up in monolingual homes. They also paid more attention to novel images compared to monolingual infants. The findings reveal a generalised cognitive advantage that emerges early in bilingual infants, and is not specific to a particular language. The findings were published online on 30 July 2014 in the highly-regarded scientific journal, Child Development.

Infants were shown a coloured image of either a bear or a wolf. For half the group, the bear was made to become the "familiar" image while the wolf was the "novel" one, and vice versa for the rest of the group. The study showed that bilingual babies got bored of familiar images faster than monolingual babies.

Several previous studies in the field have shown that the rate at which an infant becomes bored of a familiar image and subsequent preference for novelty is a common predictor of better pre-school developmental outcomes, such as advanced performance in concept formation, non-verbal cognition, expressive and receptive language, and IQ tests. The past studies showed that babies who looked at the image and then rapidly get bored, demonstrated higher performance in various domains of cognition and language later on as children.

Bilingual babies also stared for longer periods of time at the novel image than their monolingual counterparts, demonstrating "novelty preference". Other studies in the field have shown this is linked with improved performance in later IQ and vocabulary tests during pre-school and school-going years.

Associate Professor Leher Singh, who is from the Department of Psychology at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and lead author of this study said, "One of the biggest challenges of infant research is data collection. Visual habituation works wonderfully because it only takes a few minutes and capitalises on what babies do so naturally, which is to rapidly become interested in something new and then rapidly move on to something else. Even though it is quite a simple task, visual habituation is one of the few tasks in infancy that has been shown to predict later cognitive development."

A bilingual infant encounters more novel linguistic information than its monolingual peers. A six-month old infant in a bilingual home is not just learning another language; it is learning two languages while learning to discern between the two languages it is hearing. It is possible that since learning two languages at once requires more information-processing efficiency, the infants have a chance to rise to this challenge by developing skills to cope with it.

Said Assoc Prof Leher Singh, "As adults, learning a second language can be painstaking and laborious. We sometimes project that difficulty onto our young babies, imagining a state of enormous confusion as two languages jostle for space in their little heads. However, a large number of studies have shown us that babies are uniquely well positioned to take on the challenges of bilingual acquisition and in fact, may benefit from this journey."

In comparison to many other countries, a large proportion of Singaporean children are born into bilingual environments. This finding that bilingual input to babies is associated with cognitive enhancement, suggests a potentially strong neurocognitive advantage for Singaporean children outside the domain of language, in processing new information and recognising familiar objects with greater accuracy.

Said Assoc Prof Chong Yap Seng, Lead Principal Investigator for GUSTO, "This is good news for Singaporeans who are making the effort to be bilingual. These findings were possible because of the unique Singaporean setting of the study and the detailed neurodevelopmental testing that the GUSTO researchers perform." Assoc Prof Chong is Senior Consultant, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, National University Hospital (NUH), as well as Acting Executive Director, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Notes to Editor:

The sample for this study comprised 114 Chinese, Malay and Indian infants, of whom 60 were bilingual. There were no differences in the mothers' education and income, or household income, between the monolingual and bilingual groups.

Bilingual infants in this study are defined as infants having at least 25 per cent exposure to a second language. Monolingual infants in this study are defined as infants having at least 90 per cent exposure to a first language (English).

Please see the full press release, with Annexs, at

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that fosters world-class scientific research and talent to drive economic growth and transform Singapore into a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation driven economy.

In line with its mission-oriented mandate, A*STAR spearheads research and development in fields that are essential to growing Singapore's manufacturing sector and catalysing new growth industries. A*STAR supports these economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry.

A*STAR oversees 18 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis, as well as their vicinity. These two R&D hubs house a bustling and diverse community of local and international research scientists and engineers from A*STAR's research entities as well as a growing number of corporate laboratories. For more information on A*STAR, please visit:

About the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS)

Established in 2007, the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) is a research institute within the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and its mission is to develop disease-oriented clinical and translational research programmes in key disease areas.

SICS is distinguished by its focus on clinical sciences and the use of innovative approaches and technologies that enable the efficient and effective study of human health and diseases. The clinical scientists in SICS conduct the full spectrum of "bench to bedside" research activities in metabolic diseases (including diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance), pathways to normal growth and development (including cognitive and behavioural development), nutritional sciences as well as in certain viral infectious diseases such as chronic viral diseases.

The institute aims to attract, train and nurture clinician-scientists and to develop joint programs with universities, academic medical centres, government hospitals and research institutes. For more information on SICS, please visit:

About the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH)

KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) is a leading healthcare centre for Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Neonatology. Founded in 1858, the 830-bed JCI accredited hospital is a referral centre providing tertiary services to manage complex conditions in women and children. More than 400 specialists adopt a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach to treatment, and harness the latest innovations and technology for the best medical care possible.

As an academic and research institution, KKH is a major teaching hospital for Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. The hospital also runs the largest residency programmes for Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Paediatrics in Singapore, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education International (ACGME-I). For more information on KKH, please visit:

About the National University Hospital (NUH)

The NUH is a tertiary hospital cum academic medical centre and major referral centre for a comprehensive range of medical, surgical and dental specialties including Cardiology, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Paediatrics, Orthopaedic Surgery and Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery. The Hospital also provides organ transplant programmes for adults (in kidney, liver and pancreas) and is the only public hospital in Singapore to offer a paediatric kidney and liver transplant programme. Staffed by a team of healthcare professionals who rank among the best in the field, the NUH offers quality patient care by embracing innovations and advances in medical treatment. In 2004, the NUH became the first Singapore hospital to receive the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation, an international stamp for excellent clinical practices in patient care and safety. Today, patient safety and good clinical outcomes remain the focus of the hospital as it continues to play a key role in the training of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, and in translational research which paves the way for new cures and treatment, offering patients hope and a new lease of life. A member of the National University Health System, it is the principal teaching hospital of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the NUS Faculty of Dentistry. For more information about the NUH, please visit:

About the National University Health System (NUHS)

The National University Health System (NUHS) groups the National University Hospital (NUH), the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, the NUS Faculty of Dentistry and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health under a common governance structure to create synergies to advance health by integrating clinical care, research and education. The enhanced capabilities and capacity will enable the NUHS to deliver better patient care, train future generations of doctors more effectively and bring innovative treatments to patients through groundbreaking research. For more information about the NUHS:

About the National University of Singapore (NUS)

A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore's flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 16 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 37,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS has three Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 24 university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner in Singapore's fifth RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community. For more information, please visit:


Ms Vithya Selvam
Senior Officer
Corp Communications Department
Agency for Science, Techonology and Research (A*STAR)
Tel: +65 6826 6291
Email: [email protected]

Ms Moira Khaw
Communications Manager (DevOS)
Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
National University of Singapore
Tel: +65 6601 1954 / 9672 4127
Email: [email protected]

Ms Crystal MK
Senior Assistant Manager
NUHS Communications Office
National University Health System
Tel: +65 6772 3986 / 97898995
Email: [email protected]

Ms Angeline Chen
Senior Executive
Corporate Communications
KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH)
Tel: +65 6394 2321
Email: [email protected]

Source: A*STAR

Copyright 2014 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved.

More Stories By ACN Newswire

Copyright 2008 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of ACN Newswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of ACN Newswire. ACN Newswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Achim Weiss is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of ProfitBricks. In 1995, he broke off his studies to co-found the web hosting company "Schlund+Partner." The company "Schlund+Partner" later became the 1&1 web hosting product line. From 1995 to 2008, he was the technical director for several important projects: the largest web hosting platform in the world, the second largest DSL platform, a video on-demand delivery network, the largest eMail backend in Europe, and a universal billing syste...
Docker is hot. However, as Docker container use spreads into more mature production pipelines, there can be issues about control of Docker images to ensure they are production-ready. Is a promotion-based model appropriate to control and track the flow of Docker images from development to production? In his session at DevOps Summit, Fred Simon, Co-founder and Chief Architect of JFrog, will demonstrate how to implement a promotion model for Docker images using a binary repository, and then show h...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. Migration to cloud shifts computing resources from your data center, which can yield significant advantages provided that the cloud vendor an offer enterprise-grade quality for your application.
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll sha...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driv...
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
The modern software development landscape consists of best practices and tools that allow teams to deliver software in a near-continuous manner. By adopting a culture of automation, measurement and sharing, the time to ship code has been greatly reduced, allowing for shorter release cycles and quicker feedback from customers and users. Still, with all of these tools and methods, how can teams stay on top of what is taking place across their infrastructure and codebase? Hopping between services a...
As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction of desired change. Renowned for its approach to leadership and emphasis on their people, organizations increasingly look to our military for insight into these challenges.
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively.
DevOps and Continuous Delivery software provider XebiaLabs has announced it has been selected to join the Amazon Web Services (AWS) DevOps Competency partner program. The program is designed to highlight software vendors like XebiaLabs who have demonstrated technical expertise and proven customer success in DevOps and specialized solution areas like Continuous Delivery. DevOps Competency Partners provide solutions to, or have deep experience working with AWS users and other businesses to help t...
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, foc...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.