New research has found that being bilingual can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Associated Press.
The study was conducted by Ellen Bialystock, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto. Her research was sparked by what we know about babies, which is that just talking to them in two languages prompts them to learn both tongues in the time it takes most babies to learn one.
The belief is that the babies’ brains become better equipped to multitask. So Bialystock decided to look into the impact of knowing two languages on the elderly.
Her research involved 450 Alzheimer’s patients, who were all at the same level when diagnosed. Half of them had spoken two languages for much of their lives, while the rest only spoke one language.
The bilingual patients started to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s and were diagnosed with it four to five years later than those who spoke only one language, Bialystock reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Of course, being bilingual doesn’t mean you wanted get Alzheimer’s. But the belief is when you know two languages, the brain must always be working to inhibit one, and that activity helps keep you sharp.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
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