Himalaya: Listen. Learn. Grow.
Curious Encounters of the Nerd Kind
Could learning a language protect your brain from dementia? There are currently 46.8 million people living with dementia. In the UK, somebody will develop the condition every 3 minutes. There is no cure, however it is estimated that delaying the onset of dementia by 5 years could halve the number of deaths and save 30,000 lives per year. India and Nia speak to Thomas Bak, reader at the University of Edinburgh, about his research into the effect of bilingualism on dementia. Thomas makes a deliberate effort for his work to reach beyond academia; he is a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas) and is involved in ‘Lingo Flamingo’, a scheme which gives care home residents access to language classes. (Described in this article, which appeared in The Guardian the very day we spoke to Thomas: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/25/care-home-residents-learn-new-language.) For those who are interested, the initial study which Thomas cites as the inspiration for his subsequent research is: ‘Bilingualism as a protection against the onset of symptoms of dementia. Bialystok E, Craik F, Freedman M. Neuropsychologia, 2007. 45(2):459-64.’. To find out more, see his website ‘healthylinguisticdiet.com’, which includes events, links to open-access publications and videos from previous talks.