Say 'hola', 'bonjuour', 'ciao' to brain health
USING more than two languages throughout your life will help delay the onset of aging and dementia.
Unfortunately this advice only applies to those people who have used a second language throughout their life.
Linguist Dr Ana Ines Ansaldo, of the University of Montreal's school of audiology and speech-language pathology, has found years of bilingualism changes how the brain carries out tasks that require concentrating on one piece of information without becoming distracted by other information.
This makes the brain more efficient and economical with its resources.
To arrive at this finding, they asked two groups of seniors - one of monolinguals and one of bilinguals - to focus on the colour of an object while ignoring the position of the object.
The researchers noticed the monolingual brain used a number of regions to do a task.
However for bilinguals, the result was different.
"After years of daily practice managing interference between two languages, bilinguals become experts at selecting relevant information and ignoring information that can distract from a task,” Dr Ansaldo said.
So it appears bilinguals have more centralised and specialised functional connections, which save resources, compared to the multiple and more diverse brain areas allocated by monolinguals to accomplish the same task.
Bilinguals also achieve the same result by not using the brain's frontal regions, which are vulnerable to aging.
This may explain why the brains of bilinguals are better equipped at staving off the signs of cognitive aging or dementia.
The study was published in the Journal of Neurolinguistics.