Does Bilingualism Delay the Development of Dementia?

  • Atkinson A
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It has been suggested that bilingualism (where individuals speak two languages) may delay the devel-opment of dementia. However, much of the research is inconclusive. Some researchers have reported that bilingualism delays the onset and diagnosis of dementia, whilst other studies have found weak or even detrimental effects. This paper reviews a series of nine empirical studies, published up until March 2016, which investigated whether bilingualism significantly delays the onset of dementia. The article also explores whether the inconsistent findings can be attributed to differences in study designs or the definitions of bilingualism used between studies. Based on current evidence, it appears that lifelong bilin-gualism, where individuals frequently use both languages, may be protective against dementia. However, becoming bilingual in adulthood or using the second language infrequently is unlikely to substantially delay onset of the disease.




Atkinson, A. L. (2016). Does Bilingualism Delay the Development of Dementia? Journal of European Psychology Students, 7(1), 43–50.

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