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Bilingualism and cognitive decline : a story of pride and prejudice

Evy Woumans (UGent) , Jan Versijpt, Anne Sieben (UGent) , Patrick Santens (UGent) and Wouter Duyck (UGent)
(2017) JOURNAL OF ALZHEIMERS DISEASE . 60(4). p.1237-1239
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Abstract
In a recent review, Mukadam, Sommerlad, and Livingston (2017) argue that bilingualism offers no protection against cognitive decline. The authors examined the results of 13 studies (five prospective, eight retrospective) in which monolinguals and bilinguals were compared for cognitive decline and onset of dementia symptoms. Analysis of four of the five prospective studies resulted in the conclusion that there was no difference between monolinguals and bilinguals, whereas seven of the eight retrospective studies actually showed bilingualism to result in a four-to-five year delay of symptom onset. The authors decided to ignore the results from the retrospective studies in favor of those from the prospective studies, reasoning that the former may be confounded by participants' cultural background and education levels. In this commentary, we argue that most of these studies actually controlled for these two variables and still found a positive effect of bilingualism. Furthermore, we argue that the meta-analysis of the prospective studies is not complete, lacking the results of two crucial reports. We conclude that the literature offers substantial evidence for a bilingual effect on the development of cognitive decline and dementia.
Keywords
Cognitive decline, dementia, multilingualism, prospective cohort studies, retrospective studies, ALZHEIMERS-DISEASE, DEMENTIA, ONSET, DELAYS, AGE, COMMUNITY, DIAGNOSIS, RESERVE, RISK

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Chicago
Woumans, Evy, Jan Versijpt, Anne Sieben, Patrick Santens, and Wouter Duyck. 2017. “Bilingualism and Cognitive Decline : a Story of Pride and Prejudice.” Journal of Alzheimers Disease  .
APA
Woumans, E., Versijpt, J., Sieben, A., Santens, P., & Duyck, W. (2017). Bilingualism and cognitive decline : a story of pride and prejudice. JOURNAL OF ALZHEIMERS DISEASE  .
Vancouver
1.
Woumans E, Versijpt J, Sieben A, Santens P, Duyck W. Bilingualism and cognitive decline : a story of pride and prejudice. JOURNAL OF ALZHEIMERS DISEASE  . 2017. p. 1237–9.
MLA
Woumans, Evy et al. “Bilingualism and Cognitive Decline : a Story of Pride and Prejudice.” JOURNAL OF ALZHEIMERS DISEASE  2017 : 1237–1239. Print.
@misc{8530947,
  abstract     = {In a recent review, Mukadam, Sommerlad, and Livingston (2017) argue that bilingualism offers no protection against cognitive decline. The authors examined the results of 13 studies (five prospective, eight retrospective) in which monolinguals and bilinguals were compared for cognitive decline and onset of dementia symptoms. Analysis of four of the five prospective studies resulted in the conclusion that there was no difference between monolinguals and bilinguals, whereas seven of the eight retrospective studies actually showed bilingualism to result in a four-to-five year delay of symptom onset. The authors decided to ignore the results from the retrospective studies in favor of those from the prospective studies, reasoning that the former may be confounded by participants' cultural background and education levels. In this commentary, we argue that most of these studies actually controlled for these two variables and still found a positive effect of bilingualism. Furthermore, we argue that the meta-analysis of the prospective studies is not complete, lacking the results of two crucial reports. We conclude that the literature offers substantial evidence for a bilingual effect on the development of cognitive decline and dementia.},
  author       = {Woumans, Evy and Versijpt, Jan and Sieben, Anne and Santens, Patrick and Duyck, Wouter},
  issn         = {1387-2877},
  keywords     = {Cognitive decline,dementia,multilingualism,prospective cohort studies,retrospective studies,ALZHEIMERS-DISEASE,DEMENTIA,ONSET,DELAYS,AGE,COMMUNITY,DIAGNOSIS,RESERVE,RISK},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {1237--1239},
  series       = {JOURNAL OF ALZHEIMERS DISEASE                                        },
  title        = {Bilingualism and cognitive decline : a story of pride and prejudice},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JAD-170759},
  volume       = {60},
  year         = {2017},
}

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