Researchers tested how long it took participants to switch from one cognitive task to another, something that's known to take longer for older adults, said lead researcher Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the [...]
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) - Speaking two languages can actually help offset some effects of aging on the brain, a new study has found.
Researchers tested how long it took participants to switch from one cognitive task to another, something that's known to take longer for older adults, said lead researcher Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky.
"It has big implications these days because our population is aging more and more," Gold
"Seniors are living longer, and that's a good thing, but it's only a good thing to the extent that their brains are healthy."
team compared task-switching speeds for younger and older adults, knowing they would find slower speeds in the older population because of previous studies.
However, they found that older adults who spoke two languages were able to switch mental gears faster than those who didn't.
But don't go out and buy Rosetta Stone just yet.
The study only looked at life-long bilinguals, defined in the study as people who had spoken a second language daily since they were at least 10 years old.
team asked 30 people, who were either bilingual or monolingual, to look at a series of colored shapes and respond with the name of each shape by pushing a button.
Gold and his team found that bilingual people were not only able to switch tasks faster - they had different brain activity than their monolingual peers.
grew up in Montreal, where he
spoke French at school and English at home, prompting relatives to question whether his
French language immersion would somehow hinder his
ability to learn English.
"Until very recently, learning a second language in childhood was thought of as dangerous," he