Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Language skills and aphasia recovery - connected?

Should have taken those French classes in high school.

Turns out that for stroke patients suffering from aphasia, a language problem that affects thousands a year, bilingual brains sustain less stroke damage:
Compared to patients who spoke only one language, bilingual stroke patients were more than twice as likely to have normal cognition following their stroke and they also performed better on tests measuring post-stroke attention and function.
But the two groups had similar frequencies of aphasia, at 11.8% among monolinguals and 10.5% among bilinguals (P=0.354), which might be explained by a higher level of cognitive control in patients speaking two or more languages, Suvarna Alladi, DM, of Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India, and colleagues wrote online in Stroke.
"The only outcome not influenced by bilingualism was the frequency of aphasia," the researchers wrote. "Although this might look surprising at first sight, this finding is in-line with current research, suggesting that the mechanism underlying the protective effect of bilingualism is not because of better linguistic but executive functions acquired through a lifelong practice of language switching."
All kidding aside about missing French classes decades ago, I hope this research leads to some tools that could help in stroke recovery therapy - bilingual or not.

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