Foreign Language Learning to Promote Cognitive Flexibility in Healthy Seniors, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Late-life Depression: [cancelled/postponed due to COVID-19]

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    This study assesses if introducing a bilingual experience later in life, through a foreign language course, could serve as an innovative healthy aging tool to promote cognitive functioning in healthy seniors and seniors diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or late-life depression (LLD). Both MCI and LLD are characterized by cognitive decline beyond age-typical norms in one or more cognitive domains [1]. Cognitive flexibility (i.e., complex and flexible thinking) is often impaired in MCI and LLD [2,3]. A foreign language is known to interfere with the existing languages in the mind early in the acquisition process, requiring cognitive flexibility to solve [4]. Thus, by engaging in foreign language learning, cognitive flexibility may be enhanced in MCI and LLD patients as well as in their healthy peers. In this presentation we outline the method underlying this study. Through eye-tracking paradigms, questionnaires, and neuropsychological testing we aim to capture the effects that ensue from foreign language learning in MCI, LLD, and healthy seniors. To isolate the contribution of foreign language learning to cognitive flexibility vis-à-vis other interventions, effects are compared to those that emerge in two additional groups of healthy seniors participating in music training or a lecture series. We hypothesize that participation in the foreign language course is the most beneficial, especially for MCI and LLD patients compared to healthy seniors. If proven successful, foreign language learning could be considered for the prevention and/or treatment of late-life memory and mood disorders in the future.
    [1] Panza, F., Frisardi, V., Capurso, C., D'Introno, A., Colacicco, A. M., Imbimbo, B. P., ... & Capurso, A. (2010). Late-life depression, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia: possible continuum?. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(2), 98-116.[2] Traykov, L. Raoux, N., Latour, F., Gallo, L., Hanon, O., … Rigaud, A. (2007). Executive function deficit in mild cognitive impairment. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 20(4), 219-224. doi:10.1097/WNN.0b013e31815e6254[3] Johnco, C., Wuthrich, V. M., & Rapee, R. M. (2015). The impact of late‐life anxiety and depression on cognitive flexibility and cognitive restructuring skill acquisition. Depression and anxiety, 32(10), 754-762.[4] 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 - 8-Apr-2020
    EventAnéla / VIOT Juniorendag - Groningen
    Duration: 8-Apr-2020 → …


    ConferenceAnéla / VIOT Juniorendag
    Period08/04/2020 → …

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