LOS ANGELES — Bilingual education in schools has long been a political hot potato —it was banned in California by a 1998 ballot measure, which the state Senate is now asking voters to repeal. But politics aside, there’s an increasing amount of scientific support for the benefits of knowing (at least) two languages. Now, a new study published by the Annals of Neurology finds that you don’t even need to learn that second (or third, or fourth) tongue at a very young age: Picking up a new language even a little later in life can have serious cognitive benefits for the aging brain. Many recent studies have pointed out that bilingualism seems to be good exercise for the brain and later in life might even help delay the onset of dementia. But what if it’s a self-selecting crowd? What if the people who learned two languages are just smarter to begin with? To help rule that factor out, researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland studied 853 people who first took an intelligence test in 1947 when they were about 11 years old as part of a group called the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, and retested them again around… Read full this story
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