Keith Hautala

By

College: Medicine

Second Language Shows Benefits to Aging Brain

Published: Jan 10, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 10, 2013) — Older adults who have spoken two languages since childhood are faster than single-language speakers at switching from one task to another, according to a study conducted at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

 

The study also found that lifelong bilinguals show different patterns of brain activity than their monolingual counterparts when making the switch.  

 

The research was led by Brian Gold, associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, who specializes in cognitive neuroscience. The article, "Lifelong Bilingualism Maintains Neural Efficiency for Cognitive Control in Aging," was published in the Jan. 9 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

 

As people age, cognitive flexibility — the ability to adapt to unfamiliar or unexpected circumstances — and related "executive" functions decline. Recent studies suggest lifelong bilingualism may reduce this decline — a boost that may stem from the experience of constantly switching between languages. However, how brain activity differs between older bilinguals and monolinguals was previously unclear.

 

Gold and his colleague used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the brain activity of healthy bilingual adults, ages 60-68, with that of healthy monolingual adults in the same age group, as they completed a task that tested their cognitive flexibility.

 

The researchers found that both groups performed the task accurately. However, the bilingual  group was faster at completing the task, despite expending less energy in the frontal cortex — an area known to be involved in task-switching.

 

The researchers also measured the brain activity of younger bilingual and monolingual adults while they performed the cognitive flexibility task.

 

Overall, the young adults were faster at performing the task. Being bilingual did not affect task performance or brain activity in the young participants. In contrast, older bilinguals performed the task faster than their monolingual peers and expended less energy in the frontal parts of their brain.

 

"This suggests that bilingual seniors use their brains more efficiently than monolingual seniors," Gold said. "Together, these results suggest that lifelong bilingualism may exert its strongest benefits on the functioning of frontal brain regions in aging."

 

This research was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala, (859) 323-2396; keith.hautala@uky.edu

 

122507634.jpg
September
 
1
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Labor Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
2
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Internship Info Session
Student/Faculty/Staff Mixer
Tue
3
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: The Wolf of Wall Street
Last Day to Add a Class
Last Day to Drop a Course with 80% Refund
UK Volunteer Fair
Wed
4
LNFS Presents: Children of Men
LNFS Presents: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Black and Latino Male Initiative
Advance Your Swagger: A Night with Fonzworth Bentely
Thu
5
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Northern Iowa
Kentucky Volleyball vs. USC
LNFS Presents: Spirited Away
LNFS Presents: Mulan
Fri
6
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Football vs. Ohio
#maxfest (Ukirklex Campus Ministry)
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Creighton
Lets Swing Dance!
Sat
7
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Morehead State
Sun
8
Diversity Organization's Council
Kosher/Soul? (Jewish, African American & Appalachian culture Fuse)
Mon
9
Working Moms Connection
Job Club - Job Search Strategies for Fall
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Tue
10
Massage on the Go
College: Do the Right Thing- A conversation with Dr. Smith
The Future of Islam
LNFS Presents: Fight Club
Wed
11
9/11 Vigil
UKNABJ presents: Ferguson, Missouri: A look at media, politics and black youth in the U.S.
LNFS Presents: Mr & Mrs Smith
Duo Damiana, Molly Barth and Dieter Hennings
LNFS Presents: 22 Jump Street
Thu
12
LNFS Presents: Searching For Sugarman
LNFS Presents: Sin City
Fri
13
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Men's Soccer vs. ETSU
Sat
14
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Pepperdine
Sun
15
Kentucky Week Farmer's MarCat and Craft Fair
Majestic U.N.I.T.Y.
Mon
16
Justice Delayed not Justice Denied: A Talk with Dough Jones
PRHBTN Gallery Reception and Concert
Men's Soccer vs. Xavier
Chellgren Seminar Series: Buck Ryan
Tue
17
Internship Info Session
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: The Immigrant
Big Blue Commonwealth
Wed
18
LNFS Presents: Watermark
LNFS Presents: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Ryan Gardner Guest Trumpet Recital
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Lipscomb
Thu
19
LNFS Presents: A Band Called Death
LNFS Presents: Prisoners
The Case for Fossil Fuels-PEIK Seminar
Men's Soccer vs. Furman
Fri
20
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
College of Pharmacy Open House
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Xavier
Sat
21
 
Sun
22
Diana Ferrus: 'Writing poetry has allowed me to live': Cultural Resistance in South Africa
Kentucky Law Schools Forum
Mon
23
Pinterest Party
University of Kentucky Chamber Winds
Employer Showcase
Job Club - 10 Questions to Ask Prior to Starting a Business
Men's Soccer vs. Lousville
Tue
24
Employer Showcase
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
BPH Open House
Documentary Film Screening - Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis
LNFS Presents: Saving Mr. Banks
Wed
25
LNFS Presents: Culture Jam
LNFS Presents: Maleficent
¡Baila!
Thu
26
LNFS Presents: Ponyo
LNFS Presents: The Little Mermaid
Opening Night Bohemiam Festival
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Women's Soccer vs. Mississippi State
Fri
27
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
Kentucky Football vs. Vanderbilt
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Green Apple Day of Service: "Pick It Up"
Swing Dancing!
Sat
28
White Water Rafting @ Chattooga River
UK Chorale
Dirty Dancing Trip
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Auburn
Sun
29
 
Mon
30
#TrendingTopics: Immigration Reform
Apollo Duo - Flute and Percussion Guest Recital
Tue
 
 
 
 
Reset Page