Bilingualism, or the ability to speak two languages fluently, is thought to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. It is believed that simply being fluent in two languages engages one’s brain cells in deep cognition, which turns out to be a tool for defending oneself from dementias. It does not, however, rule out the risk that bilinguals will develop Alzheimer’s disease, although the odds are diminished. Other tasks that are profoundly engaging to the brain that have been linked to an increased risk of dementia have also been identified. However, there are distinct behaviors between monolinguals and bilinguals including variations in language production, attentional function, and the capacity to memorize issues. It must be noted, however that based on the fact that almost half of the world is bilingual, it does not mean that they are all protected but instead, it denotes to a special type of bilingualism.
Bilingualism delays Alzheimer’s disease. Based on the website psychologydictionary.org bilingualism in linguistics, is used to denote the state of having two languages that one is equally fluent or almost fluent in both. According to the National Institute on Aging Alzheimer’s disease is defined as a condition that is often irreversible and progressive in nature, affecting the brain’s memory and thinking abilities including the aptitude to execute normal tasks. It is arguably classified as the most common causation of adult dementia. Bilinguals have an advantage in reserving their cognitive abilities and delaying dementia compared to monolinguals. There are many factors that can help delay developing Alzheimer’s disease, one factor is being bilingual. There are many studies that have shown that bilingualism can delay Alzheimer’s disease up to five years when compared to monolinguals, used to refer to those who are fluent in one language (Fischer, Corinne E, Schweizer, and Tom (2014).) Bilinguals still have the possibility to develop Alzheimer’s disease, but it is just delayed. Bilinguals do a couple of things that monolinguals cannot perform. For instance, bilinguals switch between languages when they are in a setting that demands it. They also have a wider perspective on things due to the difference between the languages. Furthermore, bilinguals have a broader range of vocabulary and are also better in task switching (Perani et al., 2017).
These are, however, some of the activities that bilinguals perform that may contribute to the delay to Alzheimer’s disease. Considering the causal mechanism, it is thought that the some of the activities have constitute protective effects that could directly determine the manner in which the brans adapts to the extra effort factor needed conserving the demand to understand two languages. The concept here is that having two languages is benefiting to the brain because it contributes to advancing the organ’s cognitive reserve in the same magnitude that being involved in diverse social and mentally stimulating engagements. Basing on the fact that being bilingual is highly dependent on displaying two languages, the cerebral regions of the brains and the parts that are responsible for such mechanisms often become more tuned. The outcome is that the grey matter of the brain will become engaged more, there will be better cognitive ability and overall, a better connective effect. All these processes are achieved because of the switching ability by the brain when one is conversant in two languages. Research has been done between monolinguals and bilinguals to determine the primary areas that the two groups of people have differences in terms of cognitive ability. Findings indicate that there is a variation in the concept of language production, attentional function, and in the capacity to memorize issues. Most importantly the research indicated that bilinguals were on average five years older than their counterparts who were fluent in just one language. The findings from the research thus denote the fact that speaking two language has a benefiting effect considering both the disposition of age and education levels of the subject with the two concepts being perceived as protective factors. However, counterarguments have since been raised defending that basing on the fact that bilingualism is a global phenomenon, and that almost half the world’s population is bilingual, it is highly unlikely that such a magnitude of the population is protected from developing dementia. Instead, it infers to the fact that there are chances that only specific types of bilingualism are protective (Albán-González & Ortega-Campoverde, 2014).
Albán-González, G., & Ortega-Campoverde, T. (2014). Relationship between bilingualism and Alzheimer’s. Suma de Negocios, 5(11), 126–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-910X(14)70027-8
Perani, D., Farsad, M., Ballarini, T., Lubian, F., Malpetti, M., Fracchetti, A., … Abutalebi, J. (2017). The impact of bilingualism on brain reserve and metabolic connectivity in Alzheimer’s dementia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(7), 1690–1695. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1610909114