Washington - Speaking 2 Languages May Delay Getting Alzheimer's
Washington - A study by Ellen Bialystok Ph.D., a psychology professor at York University in Toronto shows that speaking two languages may delay Alzheimer’s disease later in life. This research studied 450 Alzheimer’s patients. All of those studied showed the same degree of memory impairment at the time of diagnosis. Half of those studied are bilingual, they have spoken two languages regularly for most of their lives. The rest are monolingual, only speaking one language. The study revealed that those patients who were bilingual were diagnosed between four and five years later than those who were monolingual.
Previous studies have shown that children who have grown up speaking two languages have better executive control than those who speak one language. Being bilingual does not prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but once the disease does begin, the additional executive control provides a buffer so that symptoms do not become apparent as quickly. “They’ve been able to cope with the disease,” Dr. Bialystok said.
This news has been spreading at Nuestro Mundo in Madison. The idea of bilingualism is nothing new for the Spanish/English immersion school. When the AP article reached Tawña Bodoh, she was thrilled. “This is just one more reason to support the growth of programs like Nuestro Mundo.” Tawña’s son, Riley, has been attending Nuestro Mundo since Kindergarten. “Riley can read, write, and do math in both Spanish and English,” Tawña says.
Scientists believe that even if you did not have the chance to grow up with multilingual talents like Riley it is never too late. People who tackle a new language later in life stand to benefit as well. “Every little bit helps,” says Dr. Bialystok. Exercising your brain builds your “cognitive reserve,” the ability to withstand the declines of aging and disease.
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