Learn a new language to prevent aging and Alzheimers
- Research on bilingualism by Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto has demonstrated that speaking more than one language delayed the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms by an average of five years.
- In a study published last year in the journal Cortex, Bialystok and her co-authors used brain scans to measure the extent of brain atrophy in monolingual and bilingual individuals who showed early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
The amount of atrophy in the bilinguals’ brains was much greater — indicating that even though their physical disease was more advanced than the monolinguals’, they’d been able to keep functioning at the same level.
- Bialystok theorizes that the lifelong mental exercise required to
speak multiple tongues — remembering which word belongs to which language — helps bilinguals augment their cognitive reserves.