Scotland

Study into how language delays onset of dementia

Older woman and man Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Research already done suggests learning a language can delay the onset of dementia

Workshops offering older adults lessons in foreign languages to help delay the effects of dementia are being studied by researchers.

Social enterprise Lingo Flamingo was set up in Govan in Glasgow in 2015.

Dr Thomas Bak, from the University of Edinburgh, said the research he was involved in was seeking "measurable effects" from the language classes.

Dr Bak has previously studied the benefits of intensive Gaelic lessons at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig college on Skye.

He has also worked on research involving a group of 600 patients in Hyderabad in India where the majority of the population was multilingual and had been for generations.

'Cognitive training'

Dr Bak, a reader in psychology, told BBC Radio Scotland's Brainwaves programme that previous research had suggested learning a language could help delay the onset of dementia by four to five years.

He said: "Four to five years is more than any medication available.

"I would say language could be part of a healthy lifestyle exactly like physical exercise and having a healthy balanced diet."

Describing Lingo Flamingo as a "pioneering and exciting project", Dr Bak said research into the cognitive training it offered could show more clearly the benefits of learning a new language.

He added: "We are looking for where we can find measureable effects. If we can, then we might indeed have a new kind of therapy."

The full interview with Dr Bak can be heard on Brainwaves from 13:30 on Wednesday.

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