Posted on Mar 11, 2011, 6 a.m.
Multilingualism is protective against cognitive impairment in seniors, with more languages spoken affording greater protection.
People who speak more than two languages may lower their risk of developing memory problems. Magali Perquin, from the Public Research Center for Health (Luxembourg), and colleagues studied 230 men and women, average age 73 years, 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, as 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.
Perquin M, et al "Multilingualism protects from cognitive impairment: A field study of seniors living in a multilingual environment” (Abstract #P02.110). Presented at American Academy of Neurology 63rd Annual Meeting, 12 April 2011.