By | CW Headley | www.theladders.com
The advantageous impact of learning multiple languages is one of the most consistent pillars of neurolinguistics.
The research literature suggests that doing so early in life contributes to improved executive function, emotional intelligence, and even disease prevention, namely Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s.
A new study published in Neuropsychologia more directly states that those who actively speak more than one language are less likely to suffer from cognitive impairment associated with aging compared to those who do not. The former appears to additionally enjoy boosts to their cognitive reserve.
The cognitive reserve is a measure of one’s resistance to cellular damage. This can be analyzed via behavioral markers alongside histological data (biological tissue).
This development will help physicians detect dementia during its preclinical phase so that patients can receive the best treatment before the condition inflicts irreversible harm.
“Lifelong bilingualism may contribute to cognitive reserve (CR) in neurodegenerative diseases as shown by a delay of the age at symptom onset in bilinguals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI),” the authors wrote in the new paper. “However, some studies have failed to show this bilingual advantage, suggesting that it might depend on the type and degree of bilingualism. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that active bilingualism, defined as the continuous use of the two languages as opposed to second language exposition only, may protect against cognitive decline. Moreover, we investigated whether bilingualism as a CR factor may be explained by an advantage within the executive control (EC) system.”