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More evidence links speaking multiple languages to better cognitive function in older adults

Image by Tobias Mikkelsen via flickr.

Image by Tobias Mikkelsen via flickr.

A study published in the Annals of Neurology indicates that cognitive decline may slow down when people speak two or more languages — even if they learned their second language in adulthood.

While it’s been known for some time that speaking more than one language benefits cognitive function, across the lifespan, scientists could not conclusively determine whether people improve their cognitive functions through learning new languages or whether those with better baseline cognitive functions are more likely to become bilingual.

“Our study is the first to examine whether learning a second language impacts cognitive performance later in life while controlling for childhood intelligence,” said lead author Dr. Thomas Bak, of the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, in a statement. Continue reading