Hablas Español?

November 7, 2013 | By Lorenzo Mejia

If you have been following the press related to dementia, it will come as no surprise that engaging your brain in different activities may reduce your risk for the disease.

A new study conducted by researchers at Edinburgh University and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India recently concluded that the ability to speak a second language will delay the onset of dementia by approximately five years.

Researchers studied almost 650 dementia patients.  Their findings indicated that people who are bilingual experience a later development of Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia.

It was notable that this advantage presented itself even if the people were illiterate, which led the researchers to conclude that the benefit did not drive from education, but the bilingual capability itself.

More research needs to be performed to understand how multi-lingualism produces this effect.   The scientists suggested that the switching between different sounds, concepts, words, and language structures acted as a form of brain training.

The researchers did not comment on if it mattered if an individual spoke several languages, or what age the language was learned.  The results were so significant, however, that they felt that understanding the relationship between bilingualism and cognition was one of their greatest priorities.



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