The Brain's Favorite Food: Chinese

Updated: Feb 24, 2019


You heard it here first, folks — learning Chinese is the cure to Alzheimer’s.

Although I’ll admit that might be a slight exaggeration, I feel confident that exercising your brain cells can only improve your cognitive power, which in turn creates winning campaigns.


In my last semester at The University of Alabama, I’ve decided to enroll in CHI 101, an intro to Chinese class. I wish I could say that decision was made for admirable reasons, but in reality it was the result of an “I’m almost a college graduate” crisis (a.k.a. my last ditch effort to learn something new before my student career is over forever).

As a senior studying public relations and management, my awkward presence in the class is duly noted by the 20 eager freshmen just happy to be there. I spend half the time gawking at my teacher in disbelief that she expects me to understand what she’s saying, and the other half questioning myself as to why I thought this was a good idea. I can easily say this is the most challenging class I’ve taken all throughout college.

That’s not to say the courses for my major haven’t been difficult. But everything that I do toward my public relations degree, including class projects, Capstone Agency, internships, etc., is a different kind of difficult from my Chinese class. My brain has become accustomed to processing social media reports, scanning graphics for design edits and sifting through an inbox of emails. While I’ve been constantly learning and developing new skills over the past three years, my mind has grown used to the parts of the brain that are connected to communication. The parts that correlate with memorization and translation have become a little rusty.

And therein lies the power of Chinese — or learning any foreign language for that matter. Challenging yourself to think in a new way and in an uncomfortable setting forces you to generate more brain activity, which can make you a stronger professional in any industry or field. Looking specifically at public relations, an energized thinking pattern has the potential to help you...

  • Dive deeper into research;

  • Discover new insights;

  • Craft revolutionary pitches; and

  • Imagine innovative campaigns.

Over time your thought process adapts to a routine, so it’s up to you to light the spark that will keep your mind’s wheels turning. If you’re working with legacy clients, it can be easy to get in a rut and crank out the same tactics over and over again. Relevancy is the only way to survive in the business world, and the only way to stay relevant is to reinvent the wheel. And to reinvent the wheel, you have to reinvent the way you think.

Chinese may not be the actual cure to Alzheimer’s, but it’s just one of the ways to spark a more successful career.

Xiéxié (thanks).

​By Megan Perkins, Capstone Agency Firm Director

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