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Speaking Second Language Might Help Aging Brain

Seniors who have been bilingual since their childhood showed thinking skills that were quicker than others, in a recent study

Seniors who have been bilingual since their childhood showed thinking skills that were quicker than others, in a recent study

January 09, 2013- Seniors who have been bilingual since their childhood showed thinking skills that were quicker than others, in a recent study. A lifetime of being able to speak two languages might help keep the brains of older people sharper, said researchers who conducted the study.

The study included seniors who were healthy and between the ages of 60 and 68. The participants were bilingual since childhood or were monolingual (one language). The brain activity of each group was monitored as they participated in different mental tasks.

Compared to the participants who were monolingual, the seniors who were bilingual were quicker at switching from one particular task to another and it took less energy in the frontal area of their brains to make the switch.

The new findings suggest the bilingual seniors are able to use their brains more efficiently compared to the seniors who were monolingual. The results have suggested, said the lead author of the study that being bilingual since childhood might exert the strongest benefits on the frontal regions of the brain during aging.

Other monolingual and bilingual adults who were younger were also tested and the results found that within the younger study participants, those who were bilingual had no advantage in switching form one particular task to another and their brain patterns were not different from those who were monolingual.

The study, said medical experts, provides the first amount of evidence of a link between a particular stimulating cognitive activity, in this instance, speaking more than one language daily with brain function.

The experts said that the study provided good and clear evidence of the different patterns of neural functioning between monolingual and bilingual individuals.

The study did find an association between the activity in the brain and language skills in seniors, but a relationship of cause and effect was not proven.

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