Have you been dying to learn Spanish, Mandarin, or Italian but fear that the window for picking up new languages has already closed in your life? While it's true the brain's ability to adapt and change things (known as neuroplasticity) decreases over time, Mo Costandi of The Guardian explains how older language learners possess their own certain advantages. He also goes over the ample research suggesting links between bilingualism and the delayed onset of dementia.
One of the big differences between the ways younger and older learners pick up language is how information is stored in the brain. Bilingual children store all their language information in the same location while an older learner, whose brains is already developed and set in its ways, utilizes different sectors for language activity. This means that learning a new tongue later in life stimulates more segments of the brain. Doing so is valuable for health because the brain, as with all body parts, needs exercise to ward off decrepitude.
So while learning a language later in life is more difficult than in childhood, doing so is perhaps most beneficial when your brain's functions are beginning to decline. Doing so could help ward off conditions such as Alzheimer's. This means that if you're a 74-year-old monolinguist who's always wanted to dabble in Croatian or something, there's no better time to start than now.
For more, keep reading at The Guardian
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