"Language is a complex ability of the human brain, and switching between different languages takes cognitive flexibility," co-author Suzanne Tyas said in a statement. "So it makes sense that the extra mental exercise multilinguals would get from speaking four or more languages might help their brains be in better shape than monolinguals."
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The team also evaluated the nuns’ writing and discovered those who could best express their ideas on paper also had a lower dementia risk.
“This study shows that while multilingualism may be important, we should also be looking further into other examples of linguistic ability,” Tyas said. “In addition, we need to know more about multilingualism and what aspects are important — such as the age when a language is first learned, how often each language is spoken, and how similar or different these languages are.”
The scientists now hope their findings can help linguists create strategies that promote multilingualism in effort to reduce dementia risk.
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