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Washington - Speaking 2 Languages May Delay Getting Alzheimer's

Published on: February 21, 2011 03:25 PM
By: AP
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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.

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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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1

 Feb 21, 2011 at 03:45 PM Babishka Says:

My mother-in-law spoke three languages (English, Yiddish and Polish) and at the end of her life she had dementia. She would speak only Polish and sing Polish folk songs.

2

 Feb 21, 2011 at 03:54 PM BLONDI Says:

most of Jewry are able to speak at least 2 languages, and unfortunately it affects us too.

3

 Feb 21, 2011 at 06:06 PM esther Says:

to 1 and 2,please, please, please learn the difference between a personal experience/anecdotal evidence and scientific research.

4

 Feb 21, 2011 at 06:39 PM Chaim_Ben-Yehuda Says:

Reply to #3  
esther Says:

to 1 and 2,please, please, please learn the difference between a personal experience/anecdotal evidence and scientific research.

Yes, but in many research projects of this nature anecdotal evidence will form part of scientific research.

Also, Estherka, you could have phrased your reproof of contributors #1 and #2 a little more diplomatically. It is THEY who have had to cope with the rigors of Alzheimer's in their loved ones - day in and day out - not you (or me, thank G-d). "Please, please learn the difference between a personal experience/anecdotal evidence and scientific research" is very patronizing.

5

 Feb 21, 2011 at 07:19 PM Z Says:

Add me to 1 & 2... My grandfather spoke English, Yiddish, Hungarian, Hebrew and has ridiculous Alzheimers now.

6

 Feb 21, 2011 at 07:27 PM Anonymous Says:

To #3- Unfortunately, the scientific community still doesn't understand what causes Alzheimers disease.

7

 Feb 21, 2011 at 08:30 PM esther Says:

Reply to #4  
Chaim_Ben-Yehuda Says:

Yes, but in many research projects of this nature anecdotal evidence will form part of scientific research.

Also, Estherka, you could have phrased your reproof of contributors #1 and #2 a little more diplomatically. It is THEY who have had to cope with the rigors of Alzheimer's in their loved ones - day in and day out - not you (or me, thank G-d). "Please, please learn the difference between a personal experience/anecdotal evidence and scientific research" is very patronizing.

i have to say that you are right and i ask mechilah from #1.

8

 Feb 21, 2011 at 10:30 PM Leon Zacharowicz Says:

If this thesis proves to be true, should we ask our yeshivas and seminaries to actually teach Hebrew?

9

 Feb 22, 2011 at 01:14 AM Paskunyak Says:

I speak Yiddish, English, Thai and some Chinese and Tagalogue. When I speak them all at once people think I have Alzheimers!

10

 Feb 22, 2011 at 06:12 AM Chaim_Ben-Yehuda Says:

Reply to #8  
Leon Zacharowicz Says:

If this thesis proves to be true, should we ask our yeshivas and seminaries to actually teach Hebrew?

Perhaps. But they should all introduce a very popular language that is currently foreign to many of them: English.

11

 Feb 22, 2011 at 07:26 AM Half & Half Says:

What if you're from Boro Park or Williamsburg and speak two half languages mixed up as one and think you speak two?

12

 Feb 22, 2011 at 09:32 AM BLONDI Says:

i have reread the article, and it says that diagnoses is 4-5 yrs later if you are bilingual, and you have to speak the two languages on a regular bases. As for the children in Toronto learning Spanish, it may take a while to show how accurate this report is for them. I remember my father a'h saying that speaking more languages can only help you, not harm you; and he would do arithmetic first in Hungarian and than check it over in Czech.

13

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