Does bilingualism influence cognitive aging?

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Bak, Thomas H; Nissan, Jack J; Allerhand, Michael M; Deary, Ian J
Year of Publication: 2014
Journal: Ann Neurol
Volume: 75
Issue: 6
Pagination: 959-63
Date Published: 2014 Jun
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1531-8249
Keywords: Aged, Aging, Cognition, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Intelligence, Male, Memory, Multilingualism, Neuropsychological Tests, Verbal behavior

Recent evidence suggests a positive impact of bilingualism on cognition, including later onset of dementia. However, monolinguals and bilinguals might have different baseline cognitive ability. We present the first study examining the effect of bilingualism on later-life cognition controlling for childhood intelligence. We studied 853 participants, first tested in 1947 (age = 11 years), and retested in 2008-2010. Bilinguals performed significantly better than predicted from their baseline cognitive abilities, with strongest effects on general intelligence and reading. Our results suggest a positive effect of bilingualism on later-life cognition, including in those who acquired their second language in adulthood.

DOI: 10.1002/ana.24158
Alternate Journal: Ann. Neurol.