Navigation Links
Canadian study shows bilingualism has protective effect in delaying onset of dementia by four years

Canadian scientists have found astonishing evidence that the lifelong use of two languages can help delay the onset of dementia symptoms by four years compared to people who are monolingual.

There has been much interest and growing scientific literature examining how lifestyle factors such as physical activity, education and social engagement may help build "cognitive reserve" in later years of life. Cognitive reserve refers to enhanced neural plasticity, compensatory use of alternative brain regions, and enriched brain vasculature, all of which are thought to provide a general protective function against the onset of dementia symptoms.

Now scientists with the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Research Centre for Aging and the Brain have found the first evidence that another lifestyle factor, bilingualism, may help delay dementia symptoms. The study is published in the February 2007 issue of Neuropsychologia (Vol.45, No.2).

"We are pretty dazzled by the results," says principal investigator Ellen Bialystok, Ph.D., whose research team at Baycrest included psychologist Dr. Fergus Craik, a world authority on age-related changes in memory processes, and neurologist Dr. Morris Freedman, an eminent authority on understanding the mechanisms underlying cognitive impairment due to diseases such as Alzheimer's.

"Our study found that speaking two languages throughout one's life appears to be associated with a delay in the onset of symptoms of dementia by four years compared to those who speak one language," says Dr. Bialystok, Professor of Psychology at York University and Associate Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest.

The study follows on the heels of previous published reports by Dr. Bialystok and colleagues showing that bilingualism enhances attention and cognitive control in both children and older adults. Those results inspired Bialystok and her research team to ask, "So what does this mean for the onset of dementia?"

In this present study, researchers set out to answer that question by examining the diagnostic records of 184 patients who came to Baycrest's Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic between 2002 and 2005 with cognitive complaints. Of that group, 91 were monolingual and 93 were bilingual. The bilinguals included speakers of 25 different languages, the most prevalent being Polish, Yiddish, German, Romanian and Hungarian.

Researchers found that 132 patients met criteria for probable Alzheimer's; the remaining 52 were diagnosed with other dementias. Patient data included Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores (a measure of general cognitive functioning), years of education and occupation. The MMSE scores were equivalent for the monolingual and bilingual groups at their initial visit to the clinic, indicating comparable levels of impairment. The age of onset of cognitive impairment was determined by the interviewing neurologist at the first clinic visit who asked patients and their families or caregivers when symptoms were first noticed.

The researchers determined that the mean age of onset of dementia symptoms in the monolingual group was 71.4 years, while the bilingual group was 75.5 years. This difference remained even after considering the possible effect of cultural differences, immigration, formal education, employment and even gender as influencers in the results.

"There are no pharmacological interventions that are this dramatic," says Dr. Freedman, who is Head of the Division of Neurology, and Director of the Memory Clinic at Baycrest, referring to the four-year delay in onset of symptoms for bilingual patients.

"The data show a huge protective effect," adds co-investigator Dr. Craik, who cautioned that this is still a preliminary finding but nonetheless in line with a number of other recent findings about lifestyle effects on dementia.

The team is working on a follow-up study that will furt her examine bilingualism and dementia onset. They plan to conduct interviews and cognitive assessments on bilingual and monolingual patients in Baycrest's Memory Clinic and follow them for a few years.


Source:Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care

Related biology news :

1. Canadian youth 4th highest in international obesity study
2. Ocean climate predicts elk population in Canadian Rockies
3. Industrial contaminants spread by seabirds in High Arctic, new Canadian study shows
4. Groundbreaking Canadian asthma study
5. Bioartificial kidney under study at MCG
6. W.M. Keck Foundation funds study of friendly microbes
7. Yellowstone microbes fueled by hydrogen, according to U. of Colorado study
8. Genome-wide mouse study yields link to human leukemia
9. Clam embryo study shows pollutant mixture adversely affects nerve cell development
10. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
11. Same mutation aided evolution in many fish species, Stanford study finds
Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/8/2015)... LAKE CITY , 8. Oktober 2015 ... TRCK), ein global tätiges Unternehmen des Bereiches ... einem Vertrag mit der Gefängnisbehörde Virginias (Department ... dessen Rahmen elektronische Überwachungsdienste für alle Strafen ... Derek Cassell , Präsident für den ...
(Date:10/7/2015)... GOTHENBURG, Sweden , October 8, 2015 ... estimates the revenues for Fingerprint Cards (FPC) during third quarter ... communicated revenue guidance of around 860 MSEK that was communicated ... Considering a further strengthened delivery capacity and a continued ... fourth quarter 2015 is estimated to be higher than during ...
(Date:10/6/2015)... SALT LAKE CITY , Oct. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... solutions company, announced today that it has signed a ... electronic monitoring services across the full range of sentences ... Track Group,s President of the Americas. "This contract with ... Eastern region of the US and advances our position ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... and TORONTO , Oct. 13, ... today announced that it has entered into a non-binding Letter ... a private Israeli company that has developed a proprietary cooling ... due to varicoceles. the United States ... between the ages of 25 and 44 diagnosed as ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... NC (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) technologies, announced today that it received de novo clearance ... in the U.S. for the ablation of prostate tissue. Sonablate® is the ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... October 13, 2015 the United States ... .  PRCC represents about 14% of all new cases of ... , Canada and Europe ... cancer.   --> Hutchison China MediTech Limited ("Chi-Med") (AIM: ... subsidiary, and AstraZeneca AB (publ) ("AstraZeneca") have completed enrolment in a ...
(Date:10/12/2015)...  MiMedx Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDXG ), the ... patent-protected processes to develop and market advanced products and ... Medicine, Ophthalmic, and the Dental sectors of healthcare, announced ... against the Company has been dismissed by the court.  ... CEO, stated, "As we suspected, this case was brought ...
Breaking Biology Technology: