Brain Protection

Do you speak more than one language?  Good news—it could protect your brain as you age.  And that holds true even if you learn new languages as an adult.

HealthDay is reporting on the study, which included over 835 people born in Scotland in 1936 whose first language was English.

They were given mental skills tests at age 11 and again in their early 70s.  In the group, 262 people were able to speak at least two languages.  Most of them learned a second language before age 18, but some learned it after that age.

Those who spoke two or more languages did much better on the mental skills tests when they were older, especially in the areas of general intelligence and reading.

The positive effects of bilingualism were seen whether people learned new languages when they were children or adults

Study author Thomas Bak at the University of Edinburgh, points out that this study is the first to measure childhood intelligence while examining whether learning a second language affects mental skills later in life.

Dr. Bak says “Millions of people around the world acquire their second language later in life. Our study shows that bilingualism, even when acquired in adulthood, may benefit the aging brain.”

He says although the study showed an association between learning a second language and having a sharper mind later in life, it wasn’t designed to determine a cause-and-effect link between the two.

Parlez-vous français?   Sprechen Sie Deutsch?   I’m hoping this works!

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.