Does bilingualism influence cognitive aging?

Ann Neurol. 2014 Jun;75(6):959-63. doi: 10.1002/ana.24158. Epub 2014 Jun 2.


Recent evidence suggests a positive impact of bilingualism on cognition, including later onset of dementia. However, monolinguals and bilinguals might have different baseline cognitive ability. We present the first study examining the effect of bilingualism on later-life cognition controlling for childhood intelligence. We studied 853 participants, first tested in 1947 (age = 11 years), and retested in 2008-2010. Bilinguals performed significantly better than predicted from their baseline cognitive abilities, with strongest effects on general intelligence and reading. Our results suggest a positive effect of bilingualism on later-life cognition, including in those who acquired their second language in adulthood.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Multilingualism*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*