Spanish researchers have said that infants who grow up in households where more than one language is spoken were more sensitive to differences in visual cues associated with the sounds of different languages compared to infants who grow up in house where only one language is spoken.
Recent research has shown that speaking more than one language can improve our ability to control our behaviour and focus our attention.
But are there any advantages for bilingual children before they can speak in full sentences? We know that bilingual children can tell if a person is speaking one of their native languages or the other, even when there is no sound, by watching the speaker's mouth for visual cues.
But Nuria Sebastian-Galles of Universitat Pompeu Fabra and colleagues wanted to know whether bilingual infants could also do this with two unfamiliar languages.
They studied 8-month-old infants, half of whom lived in either Spanish- or Catalan-speaking households and half of whom lived in Spanish-Catalan bilingual households.
The researchers looked at whether the infants could discriminate between English and French, two unfamiliar languages, using only visual cues.
They found that the bilingual infants could tell the difference between the two languages, while the infants who lived in single-language households could not.
The research was published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.