A new study suggests that individuals who spoke two languages daily during their youth may exhibit better memory later in life. Bilingualism has long been admired for its ability to foster connections in diverse settings, and this research indicates it may also offer cognitive benefits.
German researchers, studying hundreds of elderly participants, discovered that those who used two languages daily from a young age scored higher on tests related to learning, memory, language, and self-control compared to monolingual participants. The study, published in the Neurobiology of Aging journal, supports previous work indicating that bilingualism can help protect against dementia and cognitive decline in older individuals.
Though not all research on bilingualism and the aging brain has been consistent, some studies suggest that bilingual individuals may develop dementia at a later age than monolingual individuals. Neuroscientists propose that the ability of bilingual people to seamlessly switch between languages may translate into other skills, such as multitasking and emotional management, which could contribute to delaying dementia.
The recent study involved 746 participants aged 59 to 76, with around 40% of them having no memory issues, while the rest experienced confusion or memory loss. The subjects were tested on various tasks related to vocabulary, memory, attention, and calculations. Bilingual participants who used a second language daily during specific age ranges demonstrated higher scores in language, memory, concentration, attention, and decision-making abilities than their monolingual counterparts.