Child learning language
A new study reported in Annals of Neurology found that bilingualism protected people against cognitive decline associated with ageing.Pratham Books/Flickr

Knowing more than one language is good for the brain.

A new study reported in Annals of Neurology found that bilingualism protected people against cognitive decline associated with ageing.

For analysing the link, researchers followed 835 people in Edinburg, Scotland enrolled in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, from their birth till old age. Participants, who spoke English, underwent intelligence tests at age 11 and after completing age 70. Of the total, 262 people knew more than one language. Nearly 195 learnt the language before age 18 and 65 people later in life.

Both bilingualism and multilingualism were associated with better cognitive abilities, particularly in the fields of reading and intelligence.

"Our study is the first to examine whether learning a second language impacts cognitive performance later in life while controlling for childhood intelligence," lead author of the study, Dr. Thomas Bak from the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a news release.

"These findings are of considerable practical relevance. Millions of people around the world acquire their second language later in life. Our study shows that bilingualism, even when acquired in adulthood, may benefit the aging brain," Bak added.

Some Research Proven Benefits of Bilingualism:

Delays Dementia, Alzheimer's disease

Bilingualism is a topic widely explored. Last year November a team of researchers from the University of Edinburg looked at 648 dementia patients in Hyderabad and found that bilingualism delayed onset of dementia by four and half years compared to people who knew only one language.

Boosts Brain Power

In another study reported in 2012, researchers from North-western University looked at 48 healthy student volunteers and found that bilingualism helped boost brain power.

Makes the child Smarter at School, Particularly in Math

Similarly, speaking more than one language at childhood has been associated with creative thinking and problem solving skills in children. Bilingual children outperformed children who spoke only one language. The mental alertness used to switch from one language to another may be the main factor leading to this occurrence, researchers said. The mental alertness may be helping to develop skills beneficial to other types of thinking.

Apart from that, knowing more languages has been proved to improve thinking skills, multitasking skills, concentration, social communication, self-control, stronger relationships with family and friends.

However, bilingualism hasn't been totally free from criticisms. Many parents still hesitate to introduce more languages to their little ones thinking about its negative impact on their children.