Using languages to fight Alzheimer's
Those who want to stay mentally fit should learn languages. Language skills can protect against dementia. Numerous scientific studies have proven this. The age of the learner doesn't play a role at all. What's important is that the brain is regularly exercised. Learning vocabulary activates different areas of the brain. These areas control important cognitive processes. Therefore, people who are multilingual are more attentive. They can also concentrate better. However, multilingualism has additional advantages. Multilingual people can make better decisions. That is, they come to a decision faster. This is because their brain has learned to choose. It always knows at least two terms for one thing. Each of these terms is a feasible option. Therefore, multilingual people are constantly making decisions. Their brains have practice in choosing between many things. And this training doesn't just benefit the speech centre of the brain. Many areas of the brain profit from multilingualism. Language skills also mean better cognitive control. Of course, language skills will not prevent dementia. However, in multilingual people the disease progresses slower. And their brains seem better able to counterbalance the effects. In language learners symptoms of dementia appear in a weaker form. Confusion and forgetfulness are less serious. Therefore, old and young profit equally from language acquisition. And: With each language it gets easier to learn a new one. So, we should all be reaching for the dictionary instead of medicine!