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Foreign Languages May Help Protect Memory

February 24, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Speaking more than two languages may lower the risk of developing memory problems, according to this study.

“It appears speaking more than two languages has a protective effect on memory in seniors who practice foreign languages over their lifetime or at the time of the study,” study author, Magali Perquin, PhD, with the Center for Health Studies from the Public Research Center for Health (“CRP-Sant©”) in Luxembourg. Perquin, was quoted as saying.

The study involved 230 men and women with an average age of 73 who had spoken or currently spoke two to seven languages. Of the participants, 44 reported cognitive problems; the rest of the group had no memory issues.

Researchers discovered that those people who spoke four or more languages were five times less likely to develop cognitive problems compared to those people who only spoke two languages.

People who spoke three languages were three times less likely to have cognitive problems compared to bilinguals. In addition, people who currently spoke more than two languages were also four times less likely to have cognitive impairment. The results accounted for the age and the education of the participants.

“Further studies are needed to try to confirm these findings and determine whether the protection is limited to thinking skills related to language or if it also extends beyond that and benefits other areas of cognition,” said Perquin.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting held in Honolulu, Hawaii from April 9-16, 2011




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