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Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Apr;16(4):240-50. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2012.03.001.

Bilingualism: consequences for mind and brain.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON, M3J 1P3, Canada. ellenb@yorku.ca

Abstract

Building on earlier evidence showing a beneficial effect of bilingualism on children's cognitive development, we review recent studies using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods to examine the effects of bilingualism on cognition in adulthood and explore possible mechanisms for these effects. This research shows that bilingualism has a somewhat muted effect in adulthood but a larger role in older age, protecting against cognitive decline, a concept known as 'cognitive reserve'. We discuss recent evidence that bilingualism is associated with a delay in the onset of symptoms of dementia. Cognitive reserve is a crucial research area in the context of an aging population; the possibility that bilingualism contributes to cognitive reserve is therefore of growing importance as populations become increasingly diverse.

PMID:
22464592
PMCID:
PMC3322418
DOI:
10.1016/j.tics.2012.03.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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