From Sudoku to high-intensity workouts to playing the trombone, there are countless ways to challenge the brain – and maybe even stave off Alzheimer’s disease in the process. But according to a new study, speaking a second language may hold the real superpower when it comes to delaying cognitive decline.
In the study, published last month in the journal Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders, Toronto researchers found bilingual people with mild cognitive impairment, or slight but noticeable changes in mental function, progressed to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease more rapidly than their monolingual counterparts.
These findings support the idea that bilinguals may be able to live with Alzheimer’s disease in their brains for years, but function as though they do not, said co-author Ellen Bialystok, a distinguished research professor in York University’s department of psychology. This study builds on her previous research, suggesting bilingualism appears to increase people’s cognitive reserve – that is, their brain’s ability to withstand damage and decline.
As the disease progresses, however, and they are no longer able to compensate, “at some point, they’re going to deteriorate faster because they’re coping with substantially more disease,” she said.
When it comes to lifestyle activities that build cognitive reserve, language is particularly stimulating because we use it throughout our waking hours and it engages all parts of the brain, Bialystok said. But beyond that, people who know more than one language always have them available to them. There’s no switching one language off, she said, which means, even though they may not be aware of it, bilinguals are constantly selecting the language they need.
“That kind of selection is an ongoing cognitive demand of bilingualism,” Dr. Bialystok said.
In their latest study, conducted at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto, she and her team examined the patient records of 83 monolingual and 75 bilingual participants. While the team’s previous research has shown bilinguals were, on average, four years older than monolinguals when they received a dementia diagnosis, the participants of this study did not differ in age when they were eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
However, those in the bilingual group were about two years older, on average, than the monolingual group at the time of their mild cognitive impairment diagnosis.
The researchers found that it took an average of about 1.9 years for the bilingual participants to progress from mild cognitive impairment to an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, while for monolingual participants, it took an average of about 2.6 years. This suggests even though the two groups were matched at the start of the study in terms of their clinical symptoms, the bilingual patients were likely dealing with a greater level of disease, Bialystok said.
Illustrated on a graph, here’s what the two groups look like: A short platform with a gradual decline represents the cognitive function of the monolinguals, while a higher cliff, representing the bilingual participants with their higher cognitive reserve, ends in a steeper plunge.
At the University of Ottawa’s school of psychology, associate professor Vanessa Taler, who was not involved in the study, said she was excited by these findings, as they are consistent with previous research in the area.
Taler said it would be interesting to examine whether bilingualism has a protective effect for individuals with different subtypes of mild cognitive impairment. (Mild cognitive impairment is a very unstable concept, she said, as not all patients go on to develop dementia, while some even return to normal cognition.)
The age someone begins speaking a second language, how well and how often they use it, and which languages they speak, are other factors that may affect cognitive reserve, she said, but more study is needed.
“It’s cutting-edge work in this area, so that’s where we start,” she said.
Back in Toronto, Bialystok said people often ask whether it’s too late for them to learn a second language. Her answer: It’s unlikely for anyone to become fluent if they start studying another language late in life, so they would not get the same boost in cognitive reserve as a life-long bilingual speaker.
Nevertheless, she emphasized, anything that is challenging is good for the brain.
“As long as you’re using your brain in stimulating ways, you’re helping cognitive reserve,” she said. “If not language, then just make sure you’re doing something.”
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Trump says he's done taking hydroxychloroquine, unproven treatment for COVID-19 – CTV News
U.S. President Donald Trump is no longer taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, he said in an interview Sunday, after weeks of promoting it as a treatment for the novel coronavirus.
In an interview with Sinclair Broadcast’s program “Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson,” Trump said he had completed a two-week course of the drug, which has not been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19.
“Finished, just finished, yeah,” he said. “And by the way, I’m still here. To the best of my knowledge, here I am.”
A week ago, Trump revealed that he had been taking the drug himself to protect against the virus, despite his own officials cautioning that the drug should not be used outside of hospital or research settings, due to potentially fatal side effects.
His doctor did not prescribe it to him, he said. He requested it specifically.
The FDA-approved drug is used to treat malaria as well as lupus and arthritis. Trump has frequently touted it as a potential treatment in his press briefings, citing anecdotal evidence and limited studies.
In the Full Measure interview, Trump said he took the drug because two staffers in the White House had tested positive, reiterating that he had heard “tremendous reports” about the drug’s effects.
“[Hydroxychloroquine] has had tremendous, if you look at it, tremendous, rave reviews,” he said.
No rigorous, large-scale study has found the drug to be effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.
The World Health Organization announced Monday that it was temporarily dropping hydroxychloroquine from its list of experimental treatments under study. The WHO pointed to a paper published last week in the Lancet that said those taking the drug could be at a higher risk of death and heart problems.
No plans to open cooling centres in Waterloo Region this summer – CTV News
It may be more difficult to find relief from the heat in public places this summer.
The Region of Waterloo says there are no plans to open any of their cooling centres for the season.
Municipalities usually open community centres, libraries, and other public buildings during heat warnings, but officials say those spots will stay closed under the COVID-19 shutdown.
“I don’t think we have any plans for setting up cooling centres,” said Mike Murray, CAO for the Region of Waterloo during a Monday media call. “I think our ongoing encouragement to people would be, if they’re outside, to maintain physical distancing and don’t congregate in groups of more than five.”
It was announced last week that splash pads and community pools will also remain closed until further notice.
BREAKING: WHO suspends trial of hydoxychloroquine for COVID-19 – Vanguard
A clinical trial of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients has been suspended amid safety concerns.
The drug has been touted by President Donald Trump and he even revealed he took the medication for two weeks as a prophylactic.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was concerned after a study from The Lancet published on Friday revealed higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients who took the drug.
Therefore, researchers said they’re suspending the use of hydroxychloroquine in the WHO’s Solidarity Trial, which is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of four drugs and drug combinations against the virus.
‘The executive group has implemented a temporary pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm within the Solidarity trial while the safety data is reviewed by the data safety monitoring board,’ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
However, the other arms of the trial are continuing.
Source: Daily Mail
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