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Bilingualism can delay Alzheimer's

Bilingualism can delay Alzheimer's
14th October 2011

Bilingualism can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

Researchers at St Michael's Hospital in Canada have discovered that people who speak more than one language have more brain damage before they exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer's disease than those who do not.

Dr Tom Schweizer, lead researcher on the project, stated: "This is unheard of - no medicine comes close to delaying the onset of symptoms and now we have the evidence to prove this at the neuroanatomical level."

Bilingualism has long been associated with cogitative benefits.

Studies have shown that bilinguals generally perform better on exercises that require blocking out distractions and switching between two or more tasks.

To prevent interference from other languages, bilinguals develop a control network to limit unwanted information.

There has been evidence to prove that these filter systems can protect against Alzheimer's.

However, diagnosing Alzheimer's in bilingual patients is difficult, as their low performance in vocabulary tests is often not reflective of impairment, but just of their double-language ability.

Similarly, a patient may have Alzheimer's but it could go unnoticed, as poor vocabulary retention may be attributed to bilingualism.

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