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OAPs can boost brain power by learning a second language say experts

OAPs can boost brain power by learning a second language say experts

OAPs can boost brain power by learning a second language say experts

(original article in The Mirror)

Prof Antonella Sorace, from University of Edinburgh, compared retired people who learnt Gaelic with those who didn't and results were significant

OAPs can dramatically boost their brain power with just a one week course in a second language, experts say.

Prof Antonella Sorace, founder of the Bilingualism Matters Centre at the University of Edinburgh, has conducted research which shows being multilingual can improve thinking and learning ability, and may reduce mental decline with age.

And even a one week language tuition course could trigger "significant" positive effects for millions of Brits in their 60s and 70s, she said at the world's biggest science conference.

Prof Sorace performed a study of retired people undergoing a one-week intensive course in Gaelic on the Isle of Skye.

She told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC that compared with other older people not doing language courses, they showed improvements in tests of attention and thinking.

She said: "They didn't know a word of Gaelic, so we tested them beforehand and after a week of a very intensive course - five hours a day.

"And sure enough, when we compared them with other active retired people who were doing a course on something else, not just couch potatoes, we found in those who were doing a language course, the brain responds. So even when you are in your 60s or 70s, your brain responds.

"We found this one-week intensive language course led to an improvement in cognitive function. It's a significant improvement."

She explained: "We think it's about effort and novelty of the task. It's not proficiency as such, because after a week, these people are not fluent in Gaelic, but the task was novel and they applied effort and their brain responded well."