Being bilingual since childhood in itself is an advantage--not everybody can understand and shift between two languages in a single conversation at the flick of a finger. According to a study recently feature on ScienceDaily.com, researchers have proven that speaking a couple of languages isn’t only handy on a day-to-day basis--it’s also good for the brain.

Brian T. Gold, PhD, and his colleagues from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine worked with active seniors ages 60 to 68 to see if being monolingual and bilingual makes a difference in one’s brain processes. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they were asked to do tasks that measured cognitive flexibility.

The results showed that although all participants competed the tasks accurately, bilingual seniors finished them faster “despite expending less energy in the frontal cortex,” which is the part of the brain used for shifting between duties.

When the older adults were tested against young participants, the younger volunteers unsurprisingly finished before their counterparts but didn’t seem to have any changes in the usage of their frontal cortex.

Gold notes, “These results suggest that lifelong bilingualism may exert its strongest benefits on the functioning of frontal brain regions in aging."

Although this benefit doesn’t seem to kick in until one gets older, it’s amazing to know that switching between two languages--which most Filipinos can do--helps in maintaining mental agility. Regularly exercising both your brain and your body by doing activities such as solving puzzles and jogging can also help in keeping your mind sharp and stimulated.

(Screencap from Google Translate)

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