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Lifelong Language Skills Help to Maintain Cognitive Acuity

Posted Jan 20 2013 10:07pm

Previous behavioral data have shown that lifelong bilingualism (the ability to speak two languages fluently) can help to preserve youthful cognitive control abilities in aging. Brian T. Gold, from the University of Kentucky (Kentucky, USA), and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the brain activity of healthy bilingual seniors (ages 60-68 years) with that of healthy monolingual seniors as they completed a task that tested their cognitive flexibility. The researchers found that both groups performed the task accurately. However, bilingual seniors were faster at completing the task than their monolingual peers despite expending less energy in the frontal cortex an area known to be involved in task switching. The study authors conclude that: “These results suggest that lifelong bilingualism offsets age-related declines in the neural efficiency for cognitive control processes.”

Brian T. Gold, Chobok Kim, Nathan F. Johnson, Richard J. Kryscio, Charles D. Smith.  “Lifelong Bilingualism Maintains Neural Efficiency for Cognitive Control in Aging.” The Journal of Neuroscience, 9 January 2013, 33(2):387-396.

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#108 - Men Be Wary of Plastics
Low levels of a chemical found in plastic containers and tin cans increases the risk for prostate abnormalities, reports a 2005 study conducted at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine (USA). While the study was conducted on mice, researchers warn the same findings could hold true for men, because exposure levels by the lab animals in the study were far lower than that of a human baby. Blood levels of the compound Bisphenol A, BPA, at levels well below thresholds deemed safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency area were found to cause malformations of the prostates of developing animals, and these malformations were suspected to predispose these animals to prostate cancer as adults. The study also found that male mouse fetuses exposed to Bisphenol A developed abnormally enlarged prostate ducts, putting them at risk for a condition similar to benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH).
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