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Bilingualism Delays Onset of Alzheimer's Symptoms
A Canadian science team has found more dramatic evidence that speaking two languages can help delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms by as much as five years.
The latest study examined the clinical records of more than 200 patients diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease and found that those who have spoken two or more languages consistently over many years experienced a delay in the onset of their symptoms by as much as five years.
"We are not claiming that bilingualism in any way prevents Alzheimer's or other dementias, but it may contribute to cognitive reserve in the brain which appears to delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms for quite some time," said Dr. Fergus Craik, lead investigator and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Memory.
The brains of people who speak two languages still show deterioration from Alzheimer's pathology; however, their special ability with two languages seems to equip them with compensatory skills to hold back the tell-tale symptoms of Alzheimer's, such as memory loss, confusion, and difficulties with problem-solving and planning.
"These results are especially important for multicultural societies like ours in Canada where bilingualism is common," said Dr. Bialystok, professor of Psychology at York University and associate scientist at the Rotman Research Institute. "We need to understand how bilingualism changes cognitive ability, especially when there are clinical implications as in this case."
The researchers found that bilingual patients had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's 4.3 years later and had reported the onset of symptoms five years later than the monolingual patients. The groups were equivalent on measures of cognitive and occupational level, there was no apparent effect of immigration status, and there were no gender differences.
The current study adds to mounting scientific evidence that lifestyle factors – such as regular cardiovascular exercise, a healthy diet, and speaking more than one language – can play a central role in how the brain copes with age-related cognitive decline and diseases such as Alzheimer's.
REHACARE.de; Source: Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
- More about the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care at: www.baycrest.org
( Source: REHACARE.de )