Foreign language learning to promote cognitive flexibility in healthy seniors and Mild Cognitive Impairment

Berg, van den, F., Brouwer, J., Loerts, H., Knooihuizen, R. & Keijzer, M., 15-Dec-2019, (Accepted/In press).

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic

The prevention and treatment of preclinical memory disorders are vital in our aging society, considering their association with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Strikingly, bilingualism has been linked to a delay in symptom onset of dementia, suggesting that lifelong bilingualism boosts cognitive reserve. This project assesses whether the introduction of a bilingual experience later in life, through foreign language learning, could serve as an innovative preventative anti-aging tool and, potentially, a cognitive therapy. Learning a foreign language involves interference in relation to the new language and the mother tongue, which requires cognitive flexibility (CF) to solve. CF may be especially impaired in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI); thus, by engaging in foreign language learning, CF may be enhanced in this population as well as in their neurotypical peers. In this presentation we outline the method underlying this investigation. Through eye-tracking paradigms and neuropsychological testing we aim to capture the effects that ensue from foreign language learning in MCI and neurotypical seniors. To isolate the contribution of foreign language learning to CF vis-à-vis other cognitive interventions, effects are compared to those that emerge in two additional groups of neurotypical seniors participating in musical training and creative workshops. Due to the unique interference process involved in learning a foreign language, it is expected that foreign language learning will boost CF more than other cognitive training programs. If proven successful, foreign language learning could be used to prevent and/or treat late-life memory disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15-Dec-2019
EventCognitive Aging Conference 2020 - JW Marriott Atlanta Buckhead, Atlanta, United States
Duration: 16-Apr-202019-Apr-2020


ConferenceCognitive Aging Conference 2020
Abbreviated titleCAC 2020
CountryUnited States


Cognitive Aging Conference 2020


Atlanta, United States

Event: Conference


  • bilingualism, cognitive reserve, mild cognitive impairment, interventions, longitudinal

ID: 109502698