Speaking a second language can delay dementia onset for years

Speaking a second language may slow the rate at which the brain declines with age, showing that bilingual people are better protected against Alzheimer's disease than people who use only one language.

Several studies have now demonstrated a clear link between using a second language and cognitive decline, which can be explained by the idea that bilingualism acts like a "mental gymnasium" that keeps the brain active in later life, scientists said.

The latest study, presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, found bilingual patients with probable Alzheimer's were more likely have delayed symptoms compared to monolingual patients. In fact, the effect of speaking a second language produced a stronger effect on delaying the onset of Alzheimer's than any drug currently used to control the disease, said Ellen Bialystok, professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada.

Source - Independent