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The effects of bilingualism on hippocampal volume in ageing bilinguals

Voits, T., Robson, H., Rothman, J. and Pliatsikas, C. ORCID: (2022) The effects of bilingualism on hippocampal volume in ageing bilinguals. Brain Structure and Function, 227. pp. 979-994. ISSN 1863-2661

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00429-021-02436-z


Long-term management of more than one language has been argued to contribute to changes in brain and cognition. This has been particularly well-documented in older age, where bilingualism has been linked to protective effects against neurocognitive decline. Since memory difficulties are key aspects of this decline, herein we examine potential effects of bilingualism on the hippocampus, a brain structure related to memory that is particularly vulnerable to cognitive ageing. Hippocampal volume has been shown to increase as a result of second language learning and use in younger adults. However, it is unknown if this is maintained throughout the lifespan. Herein, we examine hippocampal volume and episodic memory performance in a participant sample consisting of healthy older individuals with a wide range of experiences in exposure and using a second language. Results reveal greater hippocampal volume calibrated to degree of quantified dual language use. Our results mirror those of immersive active bilingualism in younger populations, suggesting long-term active bilingualism leads to neuroprotective effects in the hippocampus. We discuss this in the context of literature proposing bilingualism-induced brain reserve in the older age

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:101557
Uncontrolled Keywords:bilingualism, ageing, memory, hippocampus, structural MRI, experience-based neuroplasticity


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