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The effects of bilingualism on hippocampal volume in ageing bilinguals

Voits, Toms; Robson, Holly; Rothman, Jason; Pliatsikas, Christos; (2022) The effects of bilingualism on hippocampal volume in ageing bilinguals. Brain Structure & Function , 227 pp. 979-994. 10.1007/s00429-021-02436-z. Green open access

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Abstract

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. 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 that 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.

Type: Article
Title: The effects of bilingualism on hippocampal volume in ageing bilinguals
Location: Germany
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s00429-021-02436-z
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-021-02436-z
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Bilingualism, Ageing, Memory, Hippocampus, Structural MRI, Experience-based neuroplasticity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10178731
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