Bilingual patients in the early stages of Alzheimers disease have twice as much brain damage as unilingual patients - yet they function just as well.
If you want to keep your brain sharp and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms, it could pay to learn a second language.
Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto recently conducted a study of bilingual and unilingual people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
All of the patients had similar educations and cognitive skills, such as memory, planning, and attention. Half of the patients spoke a second language fluently, while the other half spoke just one language.
The patients scored similarly on tests for cognitive performance. But to the researchers’ surprise, the CT scans of bilingual patients showed twice as much damage to areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers speculate that the brains of people who speak two languages may be better able to compensate for Alzheimer’s damage by creating new brain networks or pathways.
It’s not known whether learning a second language at a young age is more beneficial than learning a language when we’re older.
Another key may be the fact the the minds of bilingual people are more active, which may lead to better brain health in general.
Keep your mind sharp