Bilingual seniors receive lifelong boost in cognitive ability

Solving crossword puzzles is said to keep the brain nimble, but another way to stay sharp has more to do with the culture in which someone was born.

According to the Journal of Neuroscience, bilingual senior citizens who have been speaking two languages throughout their lives tend to use their brains more efficiently, based on study findings at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

Researchers compared seniors aged 60 to 68 who had spoken either two languages or one language all their lives. As the participants switched from one mental task to another, their brain activity was monitored. The bilingual seniors were found to switch faster from one activity to the next and also used less energy in the frontal parts of their brains as they made the switch.

The journal stated the findings suggest the importance of stimulating mental activity across a lifetime and shows the cognitive flexibility that develops from constantly switching between two languages.

“Together, these results suggest that lifelong bilingualism may exert its strongest benefits on the functioning of frontal brain regions in aging,” said study author Brian Gold, Ph.D., of the university’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

While the study showed a clearly different pattern of neural functioning in the bilingual seniors compared to the those who were fluent in only one language, researchers  were unable to prove a cause-and-effect reason for the difference.

In addition, when the team compared groups of younger adults who were bilingual and monolingual, there were no differences in how quickly they moved from one activity to another or in the brain patterns that occurred.

Another way to stimulate the brain is to be at one’s best energy level, which can keep the mind clear to deal with every day stress. The dietary supplement Natural Energy from Dr. Newton’s Naturals provides nutrients, including energy-boosting vitamin B and antioxidant vitamin C, that help keep the brain sharp.