Cognitive abilities stay sharp in bilingual
With Alzheimer's disease and dementia becoming growing concerns with an aging population, many older adults are looking for ways to keep the mind sharp. A new study from the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that bilingualism – speaking two languages – could provide great benefits to cognitive abilities later in life.
Among patients who spoke two languages since childhood, the study found these subjects to have more cognitive flexibility and adaptability, and showed distinct patterns of brain activity not seen in single-language subjects. Bilingual study subjects also performed the cognitive tasks used in the study faster than those who spoke one language.
The study primarily focused on individuals between ages 60 and 68, when cognitive abilities are known to decline slightly. However, when studying participants with an average age of 31, no differences were found between bilingual and monolingual subjects. The study authors concluded that lifelong bilingualism may exert its strongest benefits in the frontal brain region, which is affected by aging.