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Index – Science – Those who are bilingual remain smarter in their old age

Index – Science – Those who are bilingual remain smarter in their old age

Numerous studies and investigations have already proven that not smoking, exercising, healthy eating, social life and relationships improve the quality of life in the elderly and can also reduce the incidence of cognitive disorders. last Publishing However, active use of a second spoken language may also be related to changes in brain structure and function.

the in the examination 746 subjects between the ages of 59 and 76 were tested on vocabulary, memory, attention and arithmetic tasks. Forty percent of them were completely healthy, but the rest suffered from confusion and memory loss. Those who used a second language daily from at least the ages of 13 to 30, and those between the ages of 30 and 65, scored higher on the tasks than those who did not use two languages ​​extensively.

Aging is associated with declines in general processing speed, memory, language, and spatial and executive control. At the neurological level, cognitive changes manifest in anatomical changes in the integrity of gray and white matter, particularly in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Research has shown a significant relationship between protection against cognitive decline and different lifestyles.

Active multilingualism

But bilingualism or multilingualism alone is not enough to protect against cognitive decline, since then the majority of the world’s population would be protected. Bilingualism is only protective if language use is active, that is, the brain is constantly forced to switch languages.

Moreover, the effect is greater in the elderly, as they are less exposed to other cognitive stimulation tasks than young adults (music, video games, social media).

According to a 2020 study, there is overlap between brain regions responsible for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and bilingual language processing.

In bilinguals, cognitive and language control are constantly involved in the management and use of languages. Because of this, his brain stimulation is quite unique compared to other activities — such as exercise, which are very limited. Neuroscientists hypothesize that bilingual people’s rapid switching between languages ​​enables them to use similar strategies in other domains (such as multitasking or managing emotions, self-control). These can delay the onset of dementia.