People who speak two or more languages likely to possess much healthier brains, according to a research by cognitive neuroscientist.
Ellen Bialystok, a distinguished research professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada, said speaking two or more languages on a regular basis from a young age could have a positive effect on the brain.
AdvertisementAnd not only does it enhance cognitive abilities, being bilingual can also delay symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, she said.
It turns out that something as ordinary as speaking a couple of languages reconfigure the brain network in a way that positively affects certain things that brains do, she said.
Bialystok and her team conducted their study at the Baycrest geriatric centre in Toronto, where they identified 200 clear cases of Alzheimer's disease and looked at the patients' backgrounds to see if they were mono- or bilingual.
The team looked at how old the patients were when their family noticed something was wrong and when they were formally diagnosed. In both cases the bilinguals were significantly older, by about four years.
Bialystok said it was possible that bilingualism protected the brain and they didn't get Alzheimer's disease earlier.
Bialystok has reasoned that bilinguals could cope with the disease better.
"My view is that late-life language learning is probably beneficial, not because of bilingualism but because learning a language is a stimulating mental activity and a good way to exercise your brain," the Guardian quoted her as saying.