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Wednesday, April 25, 2012 (read 386 times)
Learning A Language Is Good For The Brain!by Hannah Ryan
There are numerous benefits to learning languages, like expanding your horizons to other cultures, other peoples and even other employment prospects. Yet it has been concluded there are also health benefits of bilingualism! A study has shown that speaking another language does in fact slow dementia in the aging brain, and fight off the effects of Alzheimer’s.
Psychologist Ellen Bialystok from Canada’s York University has found that while all the patients had similar levels of cognitive impairment, studies show that those who were bilingual had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's about four years later, on average, than those who spoke just one language. So at the same level of impairment, bilinguals are older, which shows they have been able to cope better with the disease. “Bilingualism is protecting older adults, even after Alzheimer's is beginning to affect cognitive function" according to Bialystok.
Unfortunately, bilingualism can’t prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. What it does equip you with however is enhanced use of your brain’s ‘executive control system’, which bilingualism uses frequently to avoid confusion between languages. Even though this system does deteriorate with age, studies have shown that at every stage of life it functions better in speakers of more than one language, compared with monolinguals.
Moreover, it has been suggested that these benefits of bilingualism don’t just apply to those who have been raised speaking a second language, but also to people have learnt a foreign language later in life. Psychologist Teresa Bajo of the University of Granada insists that even school-level language skills that you use on holiday may even improve brain function to some extent. While these effects were greatest in people who had to use a second language everyday, “every little bit helps" she explained.
According to Janet Werker, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Canada, the mental exertion required to separate languages in your head creates an "enhanced perceptual vigilance" that has lifelong benefits. So, learning languages is like a cognitive workout! And when it comes to exercising the brain by learning another language, apparently it’s never too late, and never too little.
Help your brain and start learning Spanish today!
Keywords: benefits to learning languages, languages fight off alzheimer’s, benefits to bilingualism,