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Want to learn how to keep your brain sharp?

June 15, 2004 18:33 IST

Want to keep your brain sharp? Learn two or more languages then.

A recent research study quoted by WebMD Medical News shows that fluency in two languages or more prevents some of the effects of aging on brain function.

The study found that people who were bilingual were able to negotiate change better and stay focussed on a task than people who spoke only one language.

The ability to maintain one's attention on a task is known as fluid intelligence. It is one of the first aspects of brain function to decline as people get older.

The research also suggests that the ability to stay focussed on a task amid irrelevant or extra information may use the same brain processes that are involved while switching languages.

The study will appear in this month's issue of the journal Psychology and Aging. Researchers compared the reaction time of a task performed by a group of bilingual and monolingual middle-aged (30- to 59-year-olds) and older (60- to 88-year-olds). The task measured brain thinking processes known to decline with age.

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