Headline, March 15 2024/ PARENTS : ''' BILINGUAL BRAIN BILLINGS '''





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CAN LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE STAVE OF '' DEMENTIA ? '' Bilingual people display some cognitive benefits later in life, science shows.

BENEFITS FOR THE AGING BRAIN : Lots of activities are linked to better brain health in old age, like getting more education when you're younger, physical activity and cognitively stimulating hobbies.

Experts say regularly speaking multiple languages may be especially beneficial, though.

'' We use language in all aspects of daily life, so a bilingual brain is constantly working, '' said Mark Antoniou, an associate professor at Western Sydney University in Australia who specialises in bilingualism.

'' You don't really get that from other enriching experiences, like playing a musical instrument.''

The age at which you learn another language appears to be less important than how often you speak it, said Caitlin Ware, a research engineer at Broca Hospital in Paris who studies bilingualism and brain health.

'' The cognitive benefit is from having to inhabit your mother tongue.'' she said, which your brain is so forced to do if you're trying to recall the right words in another language. '' So if the second language is used a lot, you're getting that cognitive training.''

That process - called cognitive inhibition - is linked to better executive functioning. In theory, by improving these types of processes, the brain becomes more resilient to the impairments caused by diseases like dementia - a concept known as cognitive reserve.

The stronger your mental faculties, the thinking goes, the longer you can function normally, even if your brain health starts to decline.

In a landmark 2007 paper, researchers from Toronto found that among people with dementia, those who were bilingual developed symptoms four years later, on average, than those who weren't. Several studies published since then have reported similar findings, though other research has found no such difference.

LATER-LIFE LEARNING : Evidence for the benefits of learning a second language as a hobby in your 60s is weaker.

Research by Dr. Antoniou and colleagues found that although Chinese adults 60 and older improved on cognitive tests after a six-month language-learning program, people who played games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles did as well.

Another small study found that the cognition scores of older Italians who took English lessons for four months didn't rise, but the scores of people who didn't take the lessons declined.

TWO MORE recent studies on the topic, published in 2023, found virtually no difference in cognitive performance after people took part in language-learning programs.

The scientists who conducted the studies offered a few potential explanations for their disappointing results. One is that the participants were highly motivated volunteers, who may have already been at peak performance for their age, making it hard to see any improvements.

'' When we recruit participants, we have to be careful, are they really representatives of the population?'' said Dr. Ware, who helped run one of the experiments. ''And is their cognitive level maybe a little too high?''

Another is that the language interventions were perhaps too short. The handful of studies looking into the issue have used language-lessons that ''were very different in their length and frequency,'' said Judith Grossman, who researched the topic for her doctorate at Heidelberg University, in Germany.

To Dr. Antoniou, the limited finds are not entirely surprising. No one would say that learning a new language for six months '' would be the issue as having used two languages for your entire life,'' he said.

But he does think that language lessons can provide cognitive benefits by being intellectually stimulating.

Perhaps more important, Ms. Grossman said, learning another language offers other potential advantages, like traveling or connecting with new communities.

'' We use language in all aspects of daily life, so a bilingual brain is constantly working.''

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Health, Ageing, Illnesses, and likely solutions and hope continues. The World Students Society thanks author Dana G. Smith. 

With most respectful and loving dedication to Mankind, all parents of the world, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

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