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Bilingual people have sharper brains than their monolingual peers

Researchers at the University of Kentucky showed that those elderly people who had spoken two languages since they were children had more cognitive flexibility.

Bilingual brains 0Enlarge
Preserved brains are displayed at the Wellcome Trust's new 'Brains' exhibition at the Wellcome Collection on March 27, 2012, in London, England. A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience has shown that those who were bilingual as children have sharper brains as they age. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A new study has shown that the brains of bilingual seniors are sharper than their monolingual peers.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky showed that those elderly people who had spoken two languages or more since they were children had more cognitive flexibility.

Cognitive flexibility refers to someone's ability to easily switch from one task to another.

“There was already some behavioral evidence looking at reaction and accuracy showing that bilinguals slow less as they age in these cognitive areas,” neurobiologist and study author Brian Gold told NBC News.

“We wanted to understand what the neural basis of that is.”

To measure this, doctors used MRI scans of seniors' brains.

While having their brains measured, both bilingual and monolingual seniors were given various tasks to complete, said Medical News Today.

The first task had participants identify whether a shape was a circle or a square.

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The second task had the seniors identify the color of an object, red or blue while the third task combined the first two, reported Fox News.

Researchers found that bilingual seniors, particularly those who spoke another language since they were young, were more able to quickly complete the tasks.

Medical News Today says that the study further emphasizes the importance of stimulating the brain as one ages.

The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/130109/bilingual-people-have-sharper-brains-their-monolingual-peers