Monday, April 2, 2012

Being Bilingual May Help Ward Off Dementia

Individuals who are bilingual tend to experience the onset of dementia years later than those who speak only one language, studies have found. Now researchers offer a possible explanation for this phenomenon in the March 29 Trends in Cognitive Sciences. They propose that the lifelong need to monitor two languages in order to select the appropriate one leads to a constant recruitment of brain regions critical for attention and cognitive control. Such constant recruitment may, in turn, strengthen certain brain regions and help ward off the encroachment of dementia.

Exercise is another intervention that some scientists believe may be able to prevent dementia. In a recent study, for example, exercise was found to not only reduce amyloid plaques, the hallmark of Alzheimer's, in the brains of cognitively normal individuals, but to reduce them in individuals who carry the APOE-e4 gene variant. The e4 variant is a well-established risk factor for Alzheimer's. For more information about this study see Psychiatric News.

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