But did you know, too, that:
Bilingualism is linked to neural efficiency in older adults!Yep, it's true! The Journal of Neuroscience published a study earlier this year showing that lifelong bilingualism can help preserve cognitive strength in aging.
Participants, young and old, monolingual and bilingual, performed various attention-switching tasks, such as quickly sorting colors and shapes, while being monitored by fMRI. Imaging showed that the brains of the monolingual seniors worked harder to complete tasks, while the bilingual seniors' brains were much more efficient, more like those of young adults.
Neuroscientists think that these differences in brain usage help bilinguals compensate for age-related declines in thinking and memory, and may even protect against losses caused by Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
Those of us who are not lifelong bilinguals, or we later language learners who are not fully bilingual, can we hope that our brains might see these same benefits, albeit to a lesser degree, as we age? That will be the focus of future research of this study's lead author, Brian Gold of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
While we're waiting for those future results, might as well dust off your Rosetta Stone collection, have your passport at the ready, and do your best to keep your brain young and healthy! Who's with me?