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Active Communication of individuals in two or more languages may lower the risk of Cognitive Impairment

Active Communication of individuals in two or more languages may lower the risk of Cognitive Impairment

What is Language?

There are many benefits of being bilingual on the cognitive functions of which are unknown to many persons. It has been revealed that active Communication of individuals in two or more languages may lower the risk of Cognitive Impairment. Language is a tool used for  communication, either in spoken or written form. It is used to convey our thoughts,  knowledge, identity, values and opinion to others.

Cognitive impairment  is when a person  has trouble  concentrating,recalling, learning new things or making  decisions that affect  daily activities.

Learning to speak  more than one languages and actively using them, has some neurological benefits. It also lowers the risk of cognitive impairment linked with ageing. A study revealed that  speaking two languages actively, may protect against cognitive decline.

The prevalence of dementia in countries where more than one language is spoken is 50% lower than in those regions, where only one language is used to communicate,” said researcher Marco Calabria, professor at the UOC Faculty of Health Sciences and member of the University’s Cognitive NeuroLab research group and the Speech Production and Bilingualism research group.

 

How does  speaking two or more  languages  lower the  risk of cognitive  impairment?

It is unsurprising that the mechanism via which bilingualism improves the brain’s resistance to neuropathology is not understood. However, recent research  has uncovered several potentially fruitful avenues concerning how bilingualism might have reduced cognitive impairment. 

The increasing brain activity through bilingualism may contribute to adult neurogenesis in the brain.

 language learning could be a solution to promote cognitive reserve. This is as result  of the wide range of brain networks that is affected while learning  a language

Cognitive reserve refers to the brain’s ability to cope with a challenge by finding alternative ways to complete a task.

Researchers found that bilingualism provides the brain with greater cognitive reserve, delaying cognitive impairment. 

A study revealed aging bilinguals outperformed monolinguals on the Flanker task. It also showed increased gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex of biliguals. Whereas, monolinguals showed decreased gray matter in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Abutalebi et al., 2015b).

A study by Alladi et al. (2016) comparing monolingual and bilingual stroke patients found that bilinguals had a significantly lower frequency of post-stroke dementia and mild cognitive impairment. It also revealed  the same frequency of post-stroke aphasia in monolingual and bilingual individuals.

Furthermore, another benefits of being bilingual is the increase in attention and execute function of such individuals. A research suggested that bilingualism may contribute to the development of certain brain areas that control executive function and attention.

 

What are the other benefits  of  speaking two or more  languages?

The process of becoming bilingual exercises your brain and increases concentration. It also enhances your problem-solving skills. Another benefit of being bilingual, is how opens the mind in a very fundamental way. Therefore, knowledge of languages has positive benefits on the brain irrespective of your age and profession. 

Obviously, we can’t completely prevent a decline in memory that comes with ageing. However, it is essential to keep the brain in good working order and expanding your knowledge through learning a new language. One of the core benefits of being bilingual is its effect on the  delay of the progression of dementia and some other cognitive impairment later in life.

 

References

 

1.Abutalebi J., Guidi L., Borsa V., Canini M., Della Rosa P. A., Parris B. A., et al. (2015b). Bilingualism provides a neural reserve for aging populations. Neuropsychologia 69 201–210.

2.Alladi S., Bak T. H., Mekala S., Rajan A., Chaudhuri J. R., Mioshi E., et al. (2016). Impact of bilingualism on cognitive outcome after stroke. Stroke 47 258–261. 10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.010418.

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