SPEAKING TWO LANGUAGES GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
New research released this month out of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto found that the brains of people who speak two languages appear to be more resistant to the destructive effects of Alzheimer’s disease than people who only speak one language.
Researchers took CT scans of the brains of 40 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Half of the patients spoke two languages and half spoke only one. On average, there was evidence of greater brain destruction for the same level of brain function in those who were bilingual. In other words, it took more damage to the bilingual brain before there would decline in brain function.
This appears to be an illustration of the concept of Cognitive Reserve (CR), the theory that the more you build up your brain’s capacity, the more resilient it will be if there is damage or injury to the brain. Because managing two different languages requires considerable work for the brain, the belief is that using more of the brain’s resources leads to an increased CR and thus greater resistance to Alzheimer’s disease.
But before you run out and sign up for Portuguese lessons, keep in mind that researchers don’t know whether the apparent benefits of bilingualism can be had by learning a new language later in life or whether you’d have to learn both languages when your brain is younger and fresher. Until that piece of the puzzle is solved, there is good evidence to suggest that you can keep your brain healthy by working on puzzles, reading, socializing, getting some exercise and eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and whole grains.
For more tips on promoting brain health see: http://alzheimer.ca/english/brain/brain_intro.htm
- drkarlkabasele posted this