Study: Monoglots face bigger risk of dementia


By AGENCY
  • Family
  • Thursday, 18 Apr 2024

Research has shown that being a polyglot means a lower likelihood of cognitive decline in later life. — 123rf

SCIENTISTS in India have found more evidence that bilingual people are less likely to develop dementia compared to people limited to one language.

"Dementia prevalence was higher in monolinguals (4.9%) than bilinguals (0.4%)," according to The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences researchers, whose work was published in the Alzheimer's Association journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Previous research suggested being a polyglot could mean a lower likelihood of cognitive decline in later life, the team acknowledged, adding that those earlier findings did not have "much evidence from community-based studies".

They sought to fill that gap by going door-to-door in Bangalore, a southern India city known as the country’s information technology hub, where they further found the prevalence of mild cognitive impairment to be "also higher in monolinguals (8.5%) than bilinguals (5.3%)".

In 2023, a Germany-based team published findings in the journal Neurobiology Of Aging, in which they said early-life bilingualism meant a reduced risk of dementia in later life.

In 2014, scientists from the University of Edinburgh suggested speaking more than one language could have a "protective effect" on the brain.

However, it is not just language ability that can help against dementia, according to other recent work.

There could be a link between diabetes and the likelihood of dementia onset, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in March.

University of California research published early this year suggested good sleep when young reduces the risk of dementia. In mid-2023, a Swiss-based team found older brains benefit from listening to music, while around the same time, research by New York University doctors suggested moderate Internet use by the elderly can help fend off cognitive decline.

Declining hearing and vision have separately been associated with a greater likelihood of developing dementia. – dpa

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