Study: Bilingualism delays dementia

Correlation between knowing more than one language, brain development


HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A recent study in India found that among 648 people diagnosed with dementia, those who knew more than one language had a four and a half year delay in developing the disease.

According to neurologist Dr. Nicholas Suite, the benefit occurred regardless of education or literacy level. 

"It was more or less developing that part of the brain that controls language and multiple languages that seemed to correlate best with staving off dementia," he said.

Researchers found that being at least bilingual can help build a part of the brain responsible for cognitive reserve.

"What you're doing is your establishing more territory devoted to language and understanding and intellect," said Suite. "Therefore, you are able to last longer."

Gad Soffer, who is fluent in five languages, said he was devastated by his own mother's struggle with dementia.

"It's like you see someone healthy and all of a sudden they need a cane. It's the same thing mental," he explained.

Soffer said he does everything he can to keep his brain active and healthy.

Studies say as people age, they gain the ability to incorporate different sides of their brains.

The study, however, didn't examine how early languages need to be learned in order to benefit the brain.