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Two languages better than one to keep mind young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two languages are better than one when it comes to keeping the brain young, Canadian researchers reported on Monday. Older adults who grew up bilingual had quicker minds when tested than people who spoke only one language, the researchers found. They showed less of the natural decline associated with aging.

The tests of people who grew up speaking English and either Tamil or French suggested that having to juggle two languages keeps the brain elastic and may help prevent some of the mental slowing caused by age, the researchers said.

Writing in the journal Psychology and Aging, Ellen Bialystok of York University in Canada and colleagues said they tested 104 monolingual and bilingual middle-aged adults aged 30 to 59 and 50 older adults aged 60 to 88.

They used a test called the Simon Task, which measures reaction time for cognitive tasks, such as recognizing on which part of a computer screen a colored square appears.

Both younger and older bilinguals were faster on the test, Bialystok reported.

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