Foreign language learning to promote cognitive flexibility in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Late-Life Depression

Brouwer, J., Berg, van den, F., Knooihuizen, R., Loerts, H. & Keijzer, M., 18-Nov-2019, (Accepted/In press).

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic

The world’s population is aging rapidly. Aging is associated with declines incognitive and sometimes mental health, which increases risks for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and late-life depression (LLD). Current behavioral and drug therapies are not always successful (1; 2). It has been suggested that foreign language learning involves the same cognitive processes that are known to deteriorate with aging. That is, cognitive flexibility is needed to solve the interference between a newly learned language and the mother tongue (3). Two populations in which cognitive flexibility may be especially impaired are MCI and LLD patients (2). Therefore, we assess if foreign language learning could serve as an innovative preventative anti-aging tool, as well as a cognitive therapy. Specifically, English is taught to functionally monolingual MCI and LLD patients, in addition to a group of healthy peers (65 or older; N = 50 per group). In this poster, we present the intended method of investigation. Changes in cognitive flexibility are measured using eye-tracking paradigms and behavioral cognitive tests. In the healthy control population, comparisons are made between thelanguage learning intervention and musical training or creative workshops, to assess the unique role of foreign language training. If language learning is the most effective it could be used to prevent and/or treat late-life memory and mood disorders.(1): Cooper, C., Li, R., Lyketsos, C., & Livingston, G. (2013). Treatment for mild cognitive impairment: systematic review. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 203(4), 255-264.(2): Johnco, C., Wuthrich, V.M., & Rapee R.M. (2013). The role of cognitive flexibility in cognitive restructuring skill acquisition among older adults. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 27(6), 576-584.(3): Kroll, J. F., Dussias, P. E., Bice, K., & Perrotti, L. (2015). Bilingualism, mind, and brain. Annual Review of Linguistics, 1(1), 377-394.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18-Nov-2019
EventWorld Congress of Applied Linguistics 2020 - MartiniPlaza, Groningen, Netherlands
Duration: 9-Aug-202014-Aug-2020


ConferenceWorld Congress of Applied Linguistics 2020
Abbreviated titleAILA2020
Internet address


World Congress of Applied Linguistics 2020


Groningen, Netherlands

Event: Conference

ID: 98791953