Bilingualism delays Alzheimer manifestation by more than four years

December 1, 2014, Ghent University

A new study at Ghent University has established that the symptoms of Alzheimer disease (AD) manifest themselves about four to five years later in bilinguals as opposed to monolinguals. In bilinguals, the disease onset was estimated at the age of 77, while in monolinguals, this was at the age of 73.

Between March 2013 and May 2014, 69 monolingual and 65 bilingual Belgian patients suffering from probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) participated in the study. Psychologists Evy Woumans, Michaël Stevens, and Wouter Duyck, together with neurologists Patrick Santens, Anne Sieben, and Jan Versijpt determined the of AD manifestation and AD diagnosis for both language groups.

Later manifestation and diagnosis

Results showed that the age of AD manifestation was 71.5 in monolinguals and 76.1 in . A similar difference was found for the age of AD diagnosis; for monolinguals this was 72.5 and for bilinguals it was 77.3. Analyses controlled for other confounding factors, such as education, profession, and socioeconomic status, which actually had a negative effect.

The protective effect of bilingualism

These findings confirm previous research suggesting that bilingualism can slow down cognitive ageing and contribute to cognitive reserve. It seems that constantly and actively controlling two languages is like a workout for the brain. It challenges our grey cells and keeps them from degenerating.

Explore further: Study examines role of bilingualism in children's development

More information: Woumans, E., Santens, P., Sieben, A., Versijpt, J., Stevens, M., & Duyck, W. (in press). "Bilingualism delays clinical manifestation of Alzheimer's disease." Language and Cognition. users.ugent.be/~wduyck/article … vensDuyckInPress.pdf

Related Stories

Study examines role of bilingualism in children's development

February 8, 2012
A new study on children who are raised bilingual examined the effects on children's development of growing up speaking two languages. The study found that different factors were responsible for the language- and non-language-related ...

Bilingual brains better equipped to process information

November 12, 2014
Speaking more than one language is good for the brain, according to new research that indicates bilingual speakers process information more efficiently and more easily than those who know a single language.

Should parents raise kids bilingually?

March 31, 2014
As one in four Australians is now born outside of Australia, many children are growing up with other languages spoken at home. Should parents speak to their child in their first language, or attempt to speak to them in English?

Study finds potential key to learning a new language

November 20, 2013
A new study by University of Houston (UH) researchers may lead to dramatic changes in the way language is taught and learned – especially a second language. These findings are important because statistics show 60 percent ...

Study shows cognitive benefit of lifelong bilingualism

January 8, 2013
Seniors who have spoken two languages since childhood are faster than single-language speakers at switching from one task to another, according to a study published in the January 9 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. ...

Recommended for you

Study predicts most people with earliest Alzheimer's signs won't develop dementia associated with the disease

May 22, 2018
During the past decade, researchers have identified new ways to detect the earliest biological signs of Alzheimer's disease. These early signs, which are detected by biomarkers, may be present before a person starts to exhibit ...

Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive decline in people with dementia

May 16, 2018
Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive (mental) impairment in older people with dementia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Mutation discovered to protect against Alzheimer's disease in mice

May 16, 2018
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science have discovered a mutation that can protect against Alzheimer's disease in mice. Published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study found that a specific ...

Most deprived are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia

May 16, 2018
Older adults in England with fewer financial resources are more likely to develop dementia, according to new UCL research.

Scientists discover a variation of the genome predisposing to Alzheimer's disease

May 15, 2018
An article published in Nature Medicine shows that the inheritance of small changes in DNA alters the expression of the PM20D1 gene and is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Restoring epigenetic balance reinstates memory in flies with Alzheimer's disease symptoms

May 14, 2018
Researchers from Drexel University reversed symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in fruit flies by restoring the balance between two epigenetic enzymes that regulate gene expression, a study shows.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.