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Do you speak several languages? Good news: according to a new German study, bilingualism would protect the brain against senile dementia.

In France, approximately 13 million people are bilingual, which means that they speak French and another language – if one immediately thinks of English, Arabic or German, it could also be Breton, Alsatian, Creole or Occitan depending on the region.

But what is the point, exactly, of being bilingual? According to a new study carried out mainly by the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (in Germany), the fact of speaking several languages ​​would constitute a good bulwark against senile dementia, a syndrome which mainly affects the elderly and which is characterized in particular by impairment of memory, reasoning and behavior.

Bilingualism contributes to the “maintenance” of the brain

The German researchers worked with a group of 750 volunteers aged 59 to 76: they were asked to take memory, concentration and learning tests. Result ? Unsurprisingly, the participants “who reported using two languages ​​daily from an early age performed better on learning and memory tests (…) than patients who spoke only one language“.

How to explain it? Scientists make the following assumption:bilingual people are able to switch from one language to another in an instant, which reveals excellent control of their cognitive abilities. In addition, this “mental gymnastics” makes it possible to preserve the cerebral structures involved for longer.” In summary, for researchers, bilingualism is a mechanism that participates in the “brain maintenance” on the long term.

Source : Neurobiology of Aging

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