Tuesday, 22 May 2012

More about dementia

Dementia is a term used to define a set of symptoms, such as memory loss, mood changes, problems with communication, reasoning and performing everyday tasks, which result from damage to the brain caused most commonly by Alzheimer’s disease. Over time, these symptoms gradually worsen, but the rate of progression, and the experience of dementia varies from individual to individual.

As we age, our risk of dementia grows and so investigation into the prevention of dementia is becoming increasingly important.

Research has shown those who remain more mentally active throughout their lives are at lower risk of cognitive impairment or dementia. These findings have led researchers to promote the idea of ‘use it or lose it’ and to advise individuals, particularly the elderly, to exercise their brains to preserve mental skills.

Furthermore, although it may make foreign travel easier, speaking more than one language, according to research, published by Cell Press in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, may also protect from signs of dementia.

Bilingualism improves our ‘cognitive reserve’. That is to say, speaking another language stimulates mental and physical activity which has a protective effect on cognitive functioning in healthy ageing. This cognitive reserve is believed to slow the onset of dementia symptoms and indeed, studies have shown bilinguals experience onset of dementia symptoms years later than monolinguals.

So it seems the knowledge and attention required for two languages may reorganise specific brain networks which, in turn, create more effective executive control and help us maintain better cognitive performance throughout our lives.

First Psychology Scotland has centres in the following locations

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk
Aberdeen: www.aberdeenpsychology.co.uk COMING SOON
Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk

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