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NS #1. Neuroscience, Multilinguism & Alzheimer

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

Are multilinguals healthier than monolinguals? Neuroscience applied to language acquisition

Julia Ofner
Black & White do not exist

The multilingual Brain & Alzheimer

The ability & benefits to speak languages have been the subject of extensive research during the last decades. Strikingly, the bilingual/multilingual brain remains actually younger in spite of the negative effects of aging. Fact is, stress, trauma, brain damage, and dependencies leave bigfoot-prints on our brains: one of the main toxic drivers for developing diseases. Watch out, trauma healing is imperative & vital. Please notice: "You decide to overcome your fears; free yourself from blocks - heal your past traumas & brain to live a healthy & happy future!" We believe; "Alzheimer´s disease will be the new diabetes of our global high-speed environment." We still know little about this mental disorder, hard to distinguish from Dementia, and there exists no treatment. German psychiatrists Alois Alzheimer and Emil Krapelin were the first to describe the disease in 1906. Science now knows that it is caused by structural and chemical changes in the brain that lead to cell necrosis and, ultimately, to the patient's death. Alzheimer patients suffer from memory loss & losing track etc which is caused by a combination of lifestyle, environmental & mental factors (unhealed trauma). Actually, stress causing inflammation of the body & brain is significantly influential here. According to the ADI (Alzheimer Disease International, 2020), there are over 55 million people living with Dementia/Alzheimer worldwide. This number will almost double every 20 years, reaching 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050.


As health is central to life. Curiosity is key to problem-solving and health ;) - so let us ask a few important questions:

How can we impact on brain health?
What are the benefits of bilingual brains?
Are multilinguals healthier than monolinguals?

More than half the world's population is already bilingual; over 50% of Europeans already speak at least two languages. Learning languages stimulates our brain and it develops an eloquent density of grey matter, especially in the inferior parietal cortex. As the acquisition process re-structures the brain significantly, the plasticity of the brain, the cytoarchitecture & the brain structure is boosted as well as the coding capacity, is impacted. It should be mentioned that the holistic acquisition experience during life plays a predominant role in the development of memory circuits, it is not about talent or genetics. Therefore, we can not confirm that the predisposition of genetic brain plasticity is significantly conditioning the brain. Julia Ofner, neurolinguist has been collecting research data for more than 20 years working with mono/bi/multi-linguals globally, she affirms that"a positive & safe experience on the learning journey can & does change the structure & the functionality of the brain."



Health Benefits of Multilingualism & Alzheimer

Multilingualism will become crucial for global business, and a game-changer for our mental health. Unfortunately, we still observe gross ignorance of people unaware of the significant benefits of bilingualism in countries like Spain/ Catalunya (Catalans are bilinguals and speak Catalan & Spanish by identity- what´s the problem?). "Our mission as global linguists without borders is to shut down this staggering ignorance and promote linguistic tolerance & diversity." As a cross-cultural team of experts, we are developing collective consciousness globally: "Bilingualism & Multilingualism is beneficial, it enriches individuals & societies. We are a global town, and it is high time to embrace diversity in communication & people. Ignorance is the past, conscious cross-cultural education is the present future of our GlobaLeaders."


Ellen Bialystok, a renowned research professor at the Faculty of Health, York, examined the effect of bi /multilingualism on Alzheimer´s disease. These studies present evidence that bilingualism plays an important role and contributes to cognitive reserve.


Research data reveals that bilingual Alzheimer´s patients were diagnosed 4.3 years later and reported the onset of symptoms 5.1 years later than monolingual patients. Surprisingly, there were no gender differences. Hence, we state that multilingualism aids in the building up of cognitive reserves in the brain. These cognitive reserves force the brain to work harder; they, themselves, restructure the brain. Multilingualism leads to greater efficiency of the brain and hence manages energy more effectively.


We still lack evidence to demonstrate whether learning another language later in life has the same protective effects. Research indicates that elderly people who have spoken two languages for the majority of their lives are faster than monolingual seniors at switching from one mental task to another. It is evident from a variety of studies that learning and knowing multiple languages sets the stage for a cognitively healthy life. Julia Ofner, expert in cross-cultural communication was born as a monolinguist who transformed into a multi-linguist (5 active languages). As a parent educating a multi-lingual child in a bilingual society in Barcelona, Julia shares her know-how & emphasizes"multilingualism contributes to a smarter, healthier, and rich cross-cultural lifestyle. Our children, the new generation W (WorldCitizen) need to connect the dots at high speed, they require high-performance brains able to switch and connect rapidly."



Neuroscience of Multilingualism

In the field of neurology, we study the language systems in the brain, the multi-lingual structural plasticity, aphasia, bimodal bilinguals, etc. Multilingualism is studied mainly with electrophysiology, neuroimaging, and the study & observation of neurotrauma or brain damage. Cognitive neuroscience locates the language areas within the perisylvian cortex of the left hemisphere. However, there are more areas involved & active in the middle and inferior temporal gyri, the lingula, the temporal pole, the fusiform gyri, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex as well as the insula. The right hemisphere also gets activated during most language tasks. In the complex neurolinguistic study of human language systems; methods such as PET and fMRI are used to determine the most important principles of cerebral language organization. It was concluded that the bilingual brain is not the addition of two monolingual language systems, but rather operates as a complex neural network that can differ across individuals. The bilingual language system is affected by specific factors of which proficiency appears to be the most important one.


In multilingual individuals, there is a great deal of similarity in the brain areas used for each of their languages. Insights into the neurology of multilingualism have been gained by the study of multilingual individuals with aphasia, or the loss of one or more languages as a result of brain damage. Bilingual aphasics can show several different patterns of recovery; they may recover one language but not another, they may recover both languages simultaneously, or they may involuntarily mix different languages during language production during the recovery period. These patterns are explained by the dynamic view of bilingual aphasia, which holds that the language system of representation and control is compromised as a result of brain damage.



"Multilingualism is beneficial, it enriches individuals & societies. We are a global town, and it is high time to embrace diversity in communication & people. Ignorance is the past, conscious cross-cultural multilingual education is the present future." - Julia Ofner´s X-cultural team-


Benefits of multilingualism

Learning languages is not like studying maths; it is more complex but also more beneficial! You are implementing a living system and pattern; notice, you have to act upon this knowledge memorized and perform with it. Furthermore, you discover a new culture, and lifestyle, you will complement your native communication skills. Every new language you learn opens a new world to you and it helps you connect more effortlessly. In business, every language gives you a competitive advantage and multilingual candidates are our new generation W of GlobaLeaders. You better get prepared ;)


We make a collaborative effort to promote language learning as an effective & holistic approach to improving brain health. An aligned awareness of the benefits of learning languages &the importance of trauma work will certainly cut down the number of Alzheimer's & Dementia.


The limits of my language, means the limits of my world. - Ludwig Wittgenstein -


Your Cross-cultural holistic Partner

We are your Partner for innovative neuroscientific solutions & education. We are a team of multi-linguists, researchers, neuroscientists, experts in cross-cultural communication & leadership passionate about change, impact & efficiency. JULIA OFNER stands for high-quality human & corporate solutions for x-cultural change management & transformation and alignment in global business. Contact us, let us work on a better tomorrow together


Thanks for Reading!

"We appreciate you taking the time to read this post, we hope you found it insightful. For more info do not hesitate and contact us. Feel free to share this post with peers & friends. Stay tuned & take care of your health & happiness."

- Julia F. Ofner -

 

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