Individuals who speak more than one language have been found to enjoy a number of benefits not directly associated with the use of the languages themselves. One of these benefits is that bilingual individuals appear to develop symptoms of dementia 4-5 years later than comparable individuals who speak just one language. Studies on this topic, however, do not consistently account for factors including if the individual learned their second language as a child or later in life, or their language proficiency. In an attempt to more carefully examine these variables, this study looks at structural and resting-state functional MRI scans of the default mode network, English and Spanish (where applicable) proficiency, language background, and demographics of young healthy adults who fall into one of three groups: early bilinguals, late bilinguals, and monolinguals. Of the three groups, late bilinguals were found to have a small but statistically significantly higher level of connectivity compared with early bilinguals in the region of the medial prefrontal cortex; patterns found examining number of languages and language proficiency in relation to functional connectivity and research group also supported this finding. These results indicate studying a language after adolescence could provide neuroprotective benefits of a nature that could potentially help delay symptoms of dementia. Age, gender, ethnicity, level of education, English language proficiency, and Spanish language use did not result in statistically significant findings, the latter of which challenges using frequency of language use to define bilingualism.
College and Department
Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Gold, Carrie Elizabeth, "Exploring the Resting State Neural Activity of Monolinguals and Late and Early Bilinguals" (2018). All Theses and Dissertations. 6671.
Bilingualism, multilingualism, memory, cognition, dementia, cognitive reserve, language, default mode network