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  • Zuzia Boguslawska

How learning a language may prevent dementia?

There are many benefits to learning new languages as they allow us to discover new cultures, connect with people all around the world and provide more job opportunities. But, let’s not forget about a whole other level of advantages of being bilingual- better brain's cognitive reserve!

It is estimated that by 2050 the number of people over the age of 60 will triple and therefore the number of people at risk of Alzheimer's will also increase. On Monday, we explained why the pharmacological research on this neurological disorder has not brought satisfying results. Hence, researchers all over the world are investigating other approaches that may enhance cognitive abilities and protect against the decline in the elderly.

Findings from the studies on the relationship between bilingualism and a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease do not provide a clear answer. That is a working hypothesis. Nevertheless, 30 years of research suggests that bilingualism or multilingualism both positively impact the brain. A review of most recent findings states that learning a foreign language increases gray matter volume, which is responsible for perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. The brain plasticity and efficient neural networks of lifelong bilingualism are thought to delay the onset of dementia. This is because putting your brain into use can make up for the loss of diseased parts.

Additionally, bilingual people are mentally flexible, because they are used to adapting to constant changes and processing information in a more effective way than monolingual individuals.

More research has to be done to find out whether learning a second language has protective effects against cognitive decline. Anyhow, engaging in a variety of activities promoting social and mental stimulation can help to keep your mind active and promote healthy aging.

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