Dementia Delays With The Onset Of A Second Language Says A Hyderbadi Scientist

Those who have been thinking about learning a second language, may want to join on a course, as scientists have identified that being bilingual may assist to postpone, 3 kinds of dementias.

The research, released in the journal Neurology, is also the first of its kind, to report a 2nd language advantage in those who are illiterate, say the scientists – who come from both the University of Edinburgh in the UK and Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India.

For their research, the scientists analyzed 648 people from India who were clinically diagnosed with dementia. The average age of the sufferers was 66, and an overall of 240 had Alzheimer’s disease, although 189 had vascular dementia & 116 had frontotemporal dementia.

With respect to the Alzheimer’s Society, frontotemporal dementia is not as common as other types of dementia, and it is induced by nerve cells in the frontal, or temporal lobes of the brain dying, resulting in the pathways, that link them to change.

The other 103 of the sufferers from India had dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and combined dementia. The American Academy of Neurology notices that DLB is one of the more frequent kinds of dementia and is triggered by the build-up of Lewy bodies -accumulated bits of protein – within areas of the brain that manage memory and motor control.

The scientists identified that individuals who spoke 2 languages did not build dementia till four and half years later than those who were monolingual.

Protection: bilingualism ‘better produces certain brain areas’

The kinds of dementias that did not build until much later in the bilingual sufferers were Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia.

In the sample of sufferers, 14% were illiterate, which research author Suvarna Alladi says makes their research unique:

“Our research is the 1st to report an advantage of talking two languages in individuals who are not able to read, indicating that  a person’s level of education is not a adequate explanation for this distinction.”

The distinction in dementia onset was also noticed in those who could not read, the scientists say, including that there was no extra advantage in talking more than two languages.

This impact was independent of other factors, such as education, sex, profession and rural versus urban living.

Suvarna Alladi states that:

“Speaking more than one language is believed to lead to better growth of the areas of the brain that manage executive functions and attention tasks, which might assist protect from the onset of dementia.”

She adds that their outcomes, “offer powerful proof for the protective effect of bilingualism towards dementia in a population extremely distinct from those analyzed so far in terms of its ethnic culture, lifestyle and patterns of language use.”

Thomas Bak, from the University of Edinburgh’s, notices that their results “recommend that bilingualism might have a more powerful impact on dementia than any presently accessible medicines.” Hence, for that reason, he states that this makes the connection between cognition and bilingualism a high research concern.