It turns out that learning a second language is advantageous for more reasons than just traveling or broadening your work options.
Speaking two or more languages has always been beneficial, from enhancing social interactions to expanding career options.
According to a recent study, learning two languages regularly from a young age may help prevent dementia later on in life.
German researchers found that bilinguals performed better than monolinguals on measures of learning, memory, language, and self-control.
Although bilingualism and dementia have previously been linked, this new study, which was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, looked at how being bilingual at various periods of childhood impacts adult cognition and brain structure.
According to researchers, bilingualism may operate as a safeguard against dementia and cognitive decline.
They found that speaking two languages regularly, particularly in adolescence and middle age, might have long term impact on cognition and neural correlates.
They looked at 746 persons between the ages of 59 and 76 for their study, of whom 40 percent had no memory issues and 60 percent were either clients of memory clinics or those who had symptoms of confusion or memory loss.
A number of vocabulary, memory, attention, and math tasks were used to evaluate the participants. They were asked to reproduce provided drawings, spell words backwards, and recollect anything they read.
Participants who reported using a second language daily at ages 13-30 or 30-65 showed higher scores in language, memory, focus, attention and decision-making abilities compared to those who weren’t bilingual.
The Annals of Neurology reported in 2014 that bilingualism and cognitive decline would be compared.
The researchers then compared cognitive tests given to 853 11-year-olds in Ireland in 1947 with exams given to the same set of people from 2008 to 2010 when they were at least seventy.
According to the study, bilinguals performed noticeably better on exams given to adults, particularly in terms of general intellect and reading proficiency.
The results demonstrated that bilingualism protects against the cognitive deterioration that comes with age.
The study also found that gender, socioeconomic position, or immigration had little bearing on the advantages of bilingualism.
Learning a second language until the age of 18 proved to give more protection among participants with higher IQs than among those with lower IQs who learned a second language later; nonetheless, bilinguals in both groups benefited, even if they did not actively use the second language.
The essential element that makes bilinguals stronger at cognitive abilities like multitasking, emotion management, and self control, which eventually protects them against dementia, is believed to be their capacity to transition between two languages.
The benefits of being bilingual, according to researchers, come not merely from having a large vocabulary but also from switching between languages often, which calls for strong cognitive control to prevent language interference.
The study evaluated just the element of utilizing two languages consistently for extended periods of time.
Researchers stress that other factors, including the age at which the languages first entered memory, demographic experiences, or the lives of multilingual people, may also contribute to enhanced cognitive ability.