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NewsBites May 2011 Issue

Being Bilingual Might Delay Alzheimer’s

Speaking two languages, researchers report, may help delay the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Canadian scientists studied 450 patients, all with similar degrees of impairment from Alzheimer’s disease. Half of the patients were bilingual. Although being bilingual can’t actually protect people from developing Alzheimer’s, researchers told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, it may help delay the onset of debilitating effects: The bilingual patients were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four to five years later than the patients who spoke only one language. The patients in the study had mostly been bilingual for many years, but researchers suggested that people who learn a second language later in life might also benefit by exercising the brain’s “executive control” ability.

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