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Learn a Second Language Now and Fight Dementia’s Wrath
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Saturday, April 29, 2023

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

People immigrating to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century spoke multiple foreign languages, but in many cases, one of them was not English. They had to attend classes to learn this new language. The stigma that accompanied speaking a foreign language led them to discourage their children from speaking their parents’ native tongue.

In my house, my mother refused to teach us her parents’ native language, even though I begged her. It was a mistake, and scientific investigation is teaching us how we lost a valuable asset by not learning a second language.

The scientific community is interested in bilingualism because it is thought to provide cognitive advantages that could postpone the onset of dementia. According to studies, bilingualism increases neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve, which helps people fend off cognitive loss brought on by the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease. Through executive control, bilingualism increases reserve, delaying the onset of early-stage dementia symptoms but not the neuropathology of the disease.

But even if we can’t help ourselves in terms of the pathology of this devastating disease, perhaps we can replace tiny bits of the brain to take over when Alzheimer’s invades our brains. There is a reserve in the brain, and language may hold the key to unlocking it. We know it’s there and now we know how to access some of it.

Lifelong bilingualism is also a powerful cognitive reserve that delays the onset of dementia by about four years. This is due to the fact that bilinguals have more developed executive control and attention processes, which are necessary for multilingualism. Because bilingualism gives the brain more cognitive reserve and delays the onset of dementia, bilinguals have an advantage over monolinguals in this regard.

Additionally, it has been found that bilinguals have improved connectivity in specific brain regions that aid in preventing dementia. It’s crucial to remember that there is ongoing discussion over bilingualism’s potential to prevent dementia.

Dementia and other forms of cognitive decline can be delayed. How does it happen? By employing different languages, bilingual people push their brains, which develop new neural pathways just as old pathways start to deteriorate with time. Additionally, due to their ability to switch seamlessly between two languages, bilingual people may be able to use similar strategies in other skills, such as multitasking and managing.

Learning a second language can enhance brain function as we age and can benefit our cognitive abilities even later in life. In this computer age, learning a second or even a third language is as close as your computer, and not all programs are expensive, some are free. Do a search, find something that is comfortable, and begin the journey of your life and your future.

Acquiring a second language in later life may help prevent dementia and cognitive decline. The difficulties of learning many languages can, as we know now, enhance cognitive reserve and forge new brain pathways, which may delay the onset of dementia. And it’s never too late, and doing so can be advantageous as we get older.

Novelty and fresh experiences play crucial roles in building new neural pathways in the brain and bolstering connections across the nervous system. In order to adjust to new experiences, gain new information, and establish new memories, the brain continuously develops new neural connections and modifies existing ones. Is the effort worth it? There is no doubt that the effort of learning a new language is time well spent.

Also, the functional connection between specific brain areas that are linked to language processing, becomes stronger the sooner the second language is learned. Were you under the questionable belief that our brain is static and can’t create new brain connections and materials? Well, it is possible, and now the research is proving it time and time again.

Think it’s too late for you to learn a new language? Or, as too many people think, because they aren’t kids anymore, their learning ability isn’t there and they can’t do it. No, it’s never too late, and the sooner you begin this course, the better for you. Learn the language and begin to strengthen your brain’s ability to combat dementia now. Delaying would not be a good move if you value your ability to think and manage your life.

In addition to these benefits later in life, we need to consider how second language classes in elementary and high school play an important role in later life. Why are we eliminating them? Is it the stigma attached to foreign languages, or are they merely cost-cutting measures? If it’s either of these two reasons, we are engaging in an incredibly damaging “service” to our kids and their futures.

Website: www.drfarrell.net

Author's page: http://amzn.to/2rVYB0J

Medium page: https://medium.com/@drpatfarrell

Twitter: @drpatfarrell

Attribution of this material is appreciated.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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