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Surprising Science

Being Bilingual Promotes Health

“The process of speaking two or more languages appears to enable skills to better cope with the early symptoms of memory-robbing diseases, including Alzheimer’s.”

“Over time, regularly speaking more than one language appears to strengthen skills that boost the brain’s so-called cognitive reserve, a capacity to work even when stressed or damaged. This build-up of cognitive reserve appears to help bilingual people as they age. ‘Speaking two languages isn’t going to do anything to dodge the bullet’ of getting Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, says Ellen Bialystok, a bilingualism researcher at York University in Toronto. But greater cognitive reserve means the ‘same as the reserve tank in a car: Once the brain runs out of fuel, it can go a little farther,’ she says.”


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