herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Second language staves off dementia

Being bilingual exercises the brain and protects against Alzheimer's disease, it was claimed today.

Scientists believe mastering two languages acts as a "mental gymnasium" by forcing the brain to multi-task.

There is increasing evidence that a bilingual ability improves mental skills and can even stave off dementia.

A new study found that bilingual Alzheimer's patients developed symptoms several years later than those who spoke only one language.



Immigrants

Prof Ellen Bialystok, from York University in Toronto, looked at more than 200 Alzheimer's patients, half of whom were bilingual.

Among them were immigrants who had regularly used at least two languages since early adulthood.

The study found that bilingual patients had been diagnosed on average 4.3 years later than those who spoke one language. They also had their first symptoms 5.1 years later than monolingual speakers. Bilingual patients often remained symptom-free into their 80s.

hnews@herald.ie

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