It is estimated that between 60-75% of people in the world speak more than one language, and as globalization advances, the number increases. The capability to speak more than one language confers clear advantages in many careers and industries, and enables bilinguals to broaden personal and professional horizons faster and more easily than most monolinguals.
The benefits don’t stop there, because researchers continue to find a compelling array of positive results, including capacity for effective multitasking, faster and sharper reaction time, accelerated recovery from stroke, and delayed onset of age-related cognitive decline.
As it turns out, language development is but one pathway that potentially leads to improved cognitive reserve and sharpened cognition. Musicians also benefit from hours of repetition and practice, another form of exercise, with concerted effort, that results in corresponding physical changes in the brain.
Singers improve by practice as well, and this repetition is part of the key. Repeated execution of any learned task or acquired skill, will necessarily have corresponding changes in neural connectivity and density, as a result of this practice.
Even casual hobbies can have a profoundly positive impact on mental function. Assembling jigsaw puzzles is a great example of a casual activity which has surprising benefits for mental fitness. Whenever the mind learns, or engages in intense computation, there are observable changes in brain structure. This is neuroplasticity in action.