Bilingualism And Alzheimer’s Disease

 

In the past few years researchers and scientists worldwide have been looking into Alzheimer’s disease more and more, in order to not only find the cause of the disease but in an effort to stop the disease from developing or delay it as much as possible. Many theories and predictions have been developed that show either a later onset of the disease or prevention of the appearance of it at all. Research has shown that any type of regular brain exercise will be good but many studies have been done, especially, with bilingualism and Alzheimer’s disease.  Scientists are interested in the role that foreign languages have on the brain and how the constant brain activity related to the active usage of a different language helps to prevent or delay the onset of dementia and, especially Alzheimer’s.

According to Sirbu and others “Studies show that older adults with intense, regular cognitive activity run a lower risk of developing dementia, regardless of their previous training.” Many scientists agree on the fact that constant brain training, activity and ‘exercise’ do, in some ways, prevent the onset and development of the disease. If you were to think about bilingualism and Alzheimer’s disease, some early onset symptoms and the progression of the disease, you would probably be able to see how an acquisition of a new way of communicating would delay dementia. Learning a new language, or even two helps to keep your brain working on a day to day basis and as studies have shown, it is very important to do brain training in order to prevent any type of dementia.

bilingualism and Alzheimer’s disease

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Bilingualism And Alzheimer’s Disease: How Does It Work?

How does being bilingual help strengthen and train the brain? Well, if you’ve ever tried learning another language, you’d realize that you are aware of all of the little grammar rules and techniques that you need to know in order to speak fluently. You’d be aware of the fact that phrases that mean one thing in one language, might mean exactly the opposite in another language.

Being bilingual is realizing at all times those differences in languages. Even if your language level is so high that you are not translating the words from your native tongue, subconsciously you are always aware of that second meaning of the words that you are saying and using. The two languages are always active and are there, ready to be used whenever and wherever needed – that’s why true bilinguals are able to switch from one language to the next almost simultaneously.

All of this gives a brain a constant exercise regime and if we were to think of exercise, we know that you more workout, the better and the bigger your muscles get. It’s the exact same with the brain. That constant workout helps your brain to stay fit and ‘stay in shape’ so to say. After learning all of this you can see why scientists and researchers are so interested in the relationship between bilingualism and Alzheimer’s disease.  Their predictions state the role of bilingualism in delay and maybe, even prevention of Alzheimer’s. Up to this day we don’t know the true cause and effect’ relationship between bilingualism and Alzheimer’s disease. It is still up to more research and experiments to figure out more, but what we do know so far is that brain training DOES help in the fight against Alzheimer’s and that bilingualism and, especially, plurilingualism trains your brain every day. So you make your own conclusions and maybe look into taking a language course!

Bilingualism and Alzheimer's Disease

Bilingualism and Alzheimer’s Disease Joonas Tikkanen

References

Guzmán-Velez, E., & Tranel, D. (2015, January ). Does bilingualism contribute to cognitive reserve? Cognitive and neural perspectives. Neuropsychology, 29(1), 139-150.

Sirbu, O.-M., Sandu, A.-M., Plesa, F.-C., & Sirbu, C.-A. (2015). CAN WE REALLY PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE? Romanian Journal of Neurology, 14(1), 10-15.

 

 

Valerie is a psychology student who is trying to pursue a career in Cognitive Neuroscience. She is passionate about the brain and finds it fascinating. She loves learning about new discoveries and research that is going on in the world of psychology and neuroscience. One day she hopes to contribute to the scientific community!