Thursday, July 24, 2014

Study examines religious affiliation and social class

Younger evangelical Protestants closing social-class gap with mainline Protestants; younger working-class increasingly unchurched

Younger generations are closing the social class gap between evangelical Protestants and mainline denominations, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist of religion has found.

And in what appears to be an important shift in the U.S. religious landscape, a growing number of younger-generation working-class Americans are not affiliated with any particular religious denomination.

"When lower-class Americans aren't choosing to be evangelical, they're increasingly choosing to be nothing," said Philip Schwadel, associate professor of sociology.

Schwadel's findings, published in the July edition of Social Science Research, could hold implications for the future role of conservative Christian groups in U.S. society and politics. Since the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980, evangelical Protestant groups have been significant players in the Republican Party.

"The results . . . show considerable change in the social-class hierarchy of religious traditions in the United States," he wrote. "In younger cohorts, differences between evangelical and liberal Protestants are greatly reduced, and evangelical Protestants no longer have lower levels of education and income than do affiliates of 'other' religions and the unaffiliated."

The underpinnings of Schwadel's study date to 1929, when theologian H. Richard Niebuhr identified what he called "Churches of the Disinherited" -- sects whose theology and worship style appeal to people of lower means and prestige. Based upon the history of other Christian denominations, Niebuhr theorized that such sects would evolve into mainstream denominations as their members became upwardly mobile, gaining more education, more income and more prestigious occupations.

Yet empirical research conducted since the 1970s has not found much change in social class differences across denominations in the United States.

"One major lack of finding is that evangelicals in most empirical research did not really change relative to other Americans," Schwadel said. "They didn't become more middle-class."

The difficulty researchers faced, Schwadel said, was measuring change by generation and not merely over time. Niebuhr's theory predicted generational change -- that the denominations would evolve as the original members' children and grandchildren gained more education, better jobs and more income.

Previous studies looked at change over time -- but the generational effect was masked by the large size of the Baby Boom generation as well as by the influence of age on religious attitudes. Those in their 70s often have a different perspective on religion than those in their 20s, Schwadel said.

Using a technique developed by other sociologists to measure changes over generations, Schwadel separated the responses of more than 31,000 white participants in the General Social Survey from 1973 to 2010 into five-year birth cohorts from 1900-1904 to 1975-79. He examined the correlations by cohort between religious affiliation and three measures of social class: income, education and occupational prestige.

He said he limited his study to white respondents because the relationship between religious affiliation and social class may vary by race.

Schwadel is among the first to apply the birth cohort approach to the sociological study of religion. He examined those identified as evangelical Protestant, liberal Protestant (Presbyterian, Episcopal and United Church of Christ), moderate Protestant, Pentecostal, nondenominational Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, other religions (such as Mormon, Hindu and Muslim) and the unaffiliated.

On the aggregate, evangelical Protestants continue to have lower education, income and occupational prestige levels than those in most other religious affiliations, he found. Yet the differences in occupation and income narrow considerably among younger generations of Protestants.

Schwadel said he found the result to be a combination of younger evangelical Protestants gaining social class status while the other affiliations lost status. The most significant reduction in social class difference occurred between evangelical Protestants and those who are unaffiliated.

Some of Schwadel's specific findings:

  • Only Pentecostals have lower levels of social class than white evangelical Protestants.
  • In younger cohorts, differences between evangelical and liberal Protestants are greatly reduced.
  • Differences between evangelicals and Catholics increase moderately across cohorts, with younger Catholic cohorts gaining social status.
  • Catholics are the "glaring exception" to the pattern of cohort-based declines in social class differences between evangelical Protestants and other white Americans. Catholics gained in income and education levels compared to evangelical Protestants.
  • Evangelicals also continue to be disproportionately lower class compared to moderate Protestants and Jews.
  • Those unaffiliated with a specific religion are no longer a small, elite social group, with relatively high levels of education, income and occupational prestige. Among younger generations, the education, income and occupations of the unaffiliated are comparable to those of evangelical Protestants.
"As Niebuhr's model predicts, white evangelical Protestants have become more similar to affiliates of some other religious traditions in terms of both education and family income, and this change occurs predominantly across birth cohorts," Schwadel wrote.

"In other words, evangelical Protestants no longer are necessarily the churches of the disinherited."
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References:

EurekAlert. 2014. “Study examines religious affiliation and social class”. EurekAlert. Posted: June 12, 2014. Available online: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/uon-ser061214.php

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

First atlas of Inuit Arctic trails launched

For centuries, indigenous peoples in the Arctic navigated the land, sea, and ice, using knowledge of trails that was passed down through the generations.

Now, researchers have mapped these ancient routes using archival and published accounts of encounters with Inuit stretching back through the 19th and 20th centuries, and have released it online for the public as an interactive atlas – bringing together hundreds of years of accrued cultural knowledge for the first time.

The atlas, found at paninuittrails.org, is constructed from historical records, maps, trails and place names, and allows the first overview of the "pan-Inuit" world that is being fragmented as the annual sea ice diminishes and commercial mining and oil drilling encroaches.

Researchers say the atlas is important not just for cultural preservation but to show the geographical extent and connectedness of Inuit occupancy – illustrating their historic sovereignty and mobility over a resource-rich area with important trade routes that are opening up due to climate change.

"To the untutored eye, these trails may seem arbitrary and indistinguishable from surrounding landscapes. But for Inuit, the subtle features and contours are etched into their narratives and story-telling traditions with extraordinary precision," said Dr Michael Bravo from Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute, who co-directed the research with colleagues Claudio Aporta from Dalhousie University, and Fraser Taylor from Carleton University in Canada.

"This atlas is a first step in making visible some of the most important tracks and trails spanning the North American continent from one end to the other."

Over the course of centuries, Arctic peoples established a network of trails – routes across the sea ice in the winter, and across open water in the summer, that stretched for hundreds of kilometres, allowing them to follow the seasonal movements of sea and land mammals on which their lives depended.

The intricate network of trails also connected Inuit groups with each other. The atlas shows that, when brought together, these connections span the continent from Greenland to Alaska. Understanding the trails is essential to appreciating Inuit history and occupancy of the Arctic, say the researchers, for which the new atlas is a vital step. v "Essentially the trails and the atlas reduce the topology of the Arctic, revealing it to be a smaller, richer, and more intimate world," Bravo said. "For all that the 19th century explorers had military equipment and scientific instruments, they lacked the very precise indigenous knowledge about the routes, patterns, and timing of animal movements. That mattered in a place where the margins of survival could be extremely narrow."

The documents that form the foundation of the new atlas consist of accounts – both published and unpublished – of encounters with Inuit by explorers, scientists, ethnographers and other visitors seeking access to the traditional indigenous knowledge to unlock the geographical secrets of the Arctic.

The material has been digitised and organised geo-spatially, with trails mapped out over satellite imagery using global positioning systems. It constitutes the first attempt to map the ancient hubs and networks that have long-existed in a part of the world frequently and wrongly depicted as 'empty': as though an unclaimed stretch of vacant space.

This notion of emptiness is one that benefits those governments and corporations whose investments in shipping routes into the northern archipelago conveniently downplay the presence of the people that have lived there for centuries.

The atlas provides evidence of the use and occupancy patterns of coastal and marine areas that intersect and overlap with significant parts of the Northwest Passage – the focus of recent mineral exploration and potentially a major shipping route. Historical printed sources like those found in the atlas are important for understanding the spatial extent of Inuit sovereignty, say the team, as these records reflect well-established Inuit networks.

In fact, because the maps are the product of encounters between Inuit and outsiders, the new resource also shows patterns of non-Inuit exploration – Western desires and ambitions to map and, at times, possess the Arctic.

"Most of the Inuit trails and place names recorded by explorers and other Arctic visitors are still used by Inuit today. They passed this knowledge on for hundreds of years, indicating intensive and extensive use of land and marine areas across the North American Arctic," said co-director Claudio Aporta.

While much of the Arctic appears 'featureless' to outsiders, it's not – and the Inuit learned how to read the fine-grained details of this landscape. Knowledge of the trails was attained by remembering specific journeys they themselves had taken, or learning in detail instructions in the oral narratives passed on by others.

The Inuit were able to read the snow, the prevailing wind, the thickness of the ice, and the landscape as a whole. Over hundreds of years, their culture and way of life was, therefore, written into the landscape. The region became an intimate part of who they are.

"The trails are lived, remembered, and celebrated through the connections that ultimately reflect the Inuit traditions of sharing life while travelling," said Bravo.

"The geographical range of the atlas is a testimony to the legacy of the Inuit people, their remarkable collective memory built on practices of detailed observation, and motivated by an enduring sense of curiosity, as well as a set of ethical obligations to the living world they inhabit," he said.
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References:

EurekAlert. 2014. “First atlas of Inuit Arctic trails launched”. EurekAlert. Posted: Une 9, 2014. Available online: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/uoc-fao060914.php

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gestures research suggests language instinct in young children

Young children instinctively use a 'language-like' structure to communicate through gestures.

Research led by the University of Warwick suggests when young children are asked to use gestures to communicate, their gestures segment information and reorganise it into language-like sequences. This suggests that children are not just learning language from older generations, their preference for communication has shaped how languages look today.

Dr Sotaro Kita from Warwick's Department of Psychology led the study with Dr Zanna Clay at the University of Neuchatel, Ms Sally Pople at the Royal Hampshire Hospital and Dr Bruce Hood at the University of Bristol.

In the paper, published in the journal Psychological Science, the research team examined how four-year-olds, 12-year-olds and adults used gestures to communicate in the absence of speech. The study investigated whether their gesturing breaks down complex information into simpler concepts. This is similar to the way that language expresses complex information by breaking it down into units (such as words) to express a simpler concept, which are then strung together into a phrase or sentence.

The researchers showed the participants animations of motion events, depicting either a smiling square or circle that moved up or down a slope in a particular manner (eg jump or rolling). Each participant was asked to use their hands to mime the action they saw on the screen without speaking. The researchers examined whether the upward or downward path and the manner of motion were expressed simultaneously in a single gesture or expressed in two separated gestures depicting its manner or path.

Dr Kita said: "Compared to the 12-year-olds and the adults, the four-year-olds showed the strongest tendencies to break down the manner of motion and the path of motion into two separate gestures, even though the manner and path were simultaneous in the original event.

"This means the four-year-olds miming was more language-like, breaking down complex information into simpler units and expressing one piece of information at a time. Just as young children are good at learning languages, they also tend to make their communication look more like a language."

Dr Clay said: "Previous studies of sign languages created by deaf children have shown that young children use gestures to segment information and to re-organise it into language-like sequences. We wanted to examine whether hearing children are also more likely to use gesture to communicate the features of an event in segmented ways when compared to adolescents and adults."

The researchers suggest the study provides insight into why languages of the world have universal properties.

Dr Kita added: "All languages of the world break down complex information into simpler units, like words, and express them one by one. This may be because all languages have been learned by, therefore shaped by, young children. In other words, generations of young children's preference for communication may have shaped how languages look today."
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References:

EurekAlert. 2014. “Gestures research suggests language instinct in young children”. EurekAlert. Posted: June 5, 2014. Available online: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/uow-grs060514.php

Monday, July 21, 2014

Multilingual or not, infants learn words best when it sounds like home

Growing up in a multilingual home has many advantages, but many parents worry that exposure to multiple languages might delay language acquisition. New research could now lay some of these multilingual myths to rest, thanks to a revealing study that shows both monolingual and bilingual infants learn a new word best from someone with a language background that matches their own.

While 1.5 year old babies are powerful word learners, they can have difficulty learning similar-sounding words (e.g., "coat" and "goat"). A string of previous studies had found unexplained differences in monolingual and bilingual children's ability to learn these types of similar-sounding words, sometimes suggesting a bilingual advantage, and other times suggesting a bilingual delay. Christopher Fennell from the University of Ottawa and Krista Byers-Heinlein from Concordia University, both in Canada, wanted to understand these differences between monolingual and bilingual word learning. They observed that these groups differ not only in how many languages they are learning, but often in whether they are raised by parents who themselves are monolingual or bilingual.

Adults raised bilingual sound subtly different to those from a monolingual environment. They posses a slight "accent" in both of their languages, so subtle that it is not usually detected by other adults. Yet, children are sometimes sensitive to differences that adults ignore. Fennell and Byers-Heinlein asked: would bilingual children learn words better from an adult bilingual and would monolingual children learn new words best from an adult monolingual?

To answer these questions, the researchers taught 61 English monolingual and English-French bilingual 17-month-olds two similar-sounding nonsense words. Infants sat on their parents' laps in front of a television monitor, where they were taught similar-sounding words for two novel objects: a clay crown-shaped object labelled with the word "kem", and a molecule from a chemistry set labelled with the word "gem". For half the babies, the label was produced by an adult who matched their language-learning environment (e.g., monolinguals heard a monolingual, and bilinguals heard a bilingual). For the other half, the label was produced by an adult who did not match their language-learning environment (e.g., monolinguals heard a bilingual, and bilinguals heard a monolingual). To determine whether children had learned the word, researchers presented an incorrect pairing (e.g. "kem" paired with the molecule"). Babies who have learned the words should be surprised at this wrong label, and stare at the mislabelled object more than when a correct label is presented. Babies who have not learned the words should look equally the object no matter if it is correctly or an incorrectly labelled.

Both monolingual and bilingual children could learn the words, but only from a speaker that matched their language-learning environment. Bilingual babies efficiently learned the words from the bilingual speaker, but not from the monolingual speaker. Conversely, monolingual babies effectively learned the words from the monolingual speaker, but not from the bilingual speaker. In other words, there was no overall bilingual advantage or a bilingual delay, but just a difference in which speaker the babies found easier to learn words from.

To further test their hypothesis, the researchers explored whether any of the bilinguals were able learn from the monolingual speaker. They found that bilinguals who were exposed to more English in their everyday environment were more successful at learning from the monolingual speaker than bilinguals with less English exposure. The researchers suspected the bilinguals who succeeded might be children of English-dominant parents who did not possess a bilingual accent in English (e.g., Mom grew up as an English monolingual, even if she was now bilingual).

"We found that all infants, regardless of whether they are learning one or two languages, learn words best when listening to people who sound like their primary caregivers," Fennell explains. "Monolingual infants succeeded with a monolingual speaker, bilingual infants with a bilingual speaker, but each group had difficulty with the opposite speaker."

The findings reveal that both monolingual and bilingual babies are highly tuned to their home language environments. The results contradict hypotheses that bilingual children are better able to deal with varied accents than monolinguals and that monolinguals have more solid word representations than bilinguals. All babies show similar strengths and weaknesses in their early word learning abilities.

Infants' ability to discern the subtle sound differences between words spoken by bilingual or monolingual speakers is striking. But this also makes a great deal of sense in the context of other evidence suggesting that infants' are uniquely tuned to their caregivers' voices. "Children seem to adapt to their language environments," says Byers-Heinlein. "This supports them in reaching their language milestones, no matter whether they grow up monolingual or multilingual."

Finally, these results have strong implications for other studies of bilingual infants and children, the authors say. If a researcher does not take in to account whether the speaker used in their experiment grew up monolingual or bilingual, as well as language dominance in a bilingual child's home, they could generate misleading results. They may "discover" that bilingual children have difficulty with some language task, when, in reality, some bilingual subgroups can succeed and others struggle depending on the language stimuli used.
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References:

EurekAlert. 2014. “Multilingual or not, infants learn words best when it sounds like home”. EurekAlert. Posted: June 4, 2014. Available online: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/sp-mon060414.php

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chinese palaeolithic finds show distinctive development patterns

The Bahe River valley of central China is regarded as one of the most important hominin sites from the late Early Pleistocene to Middle Pleistocene. Homo erectus fossils were unearthed at the Gongwangling and Chenjiawo localities, and more than 30 Palaeolithic open-air sites were investigated in the 1960s in this region. However the age, features and assemblages of stone tools collected from the Lantian region were not well understood.

New research and new sites

Dr. Wang Shejiang from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and fellow researchers discovered eight new Palaeolithic open-air sites and collected 770 lithic artefacts between 2009 to 2011 in the Lantian area of the Bahe River valley.  According to a paper published in Chinese Science Bulletin 59(7), it is the first time that Acheulian-type large cutting tools from the late Pleistocene have been identified in this region. This study distinguishes age gaps between the Western world and East Asian Acheulian-type tools.

These eight newly discovered open-air sites are located on terraces of the Bahe River. The Diaozhai section on the second terrace was examined in detail and two samples were collected for optically stimulated luminescence dating (OSL). The OSL results suggest that a buried lithic artefact layer at the Diaozhai site spans a period of 40,000 years from approximately 70 to 30,000 years ago.

This new dating of artefact scatters, helps to better understand the Palaeolithic sequence and chronology of Homo erectus in the Lantian region, and accordingly extends the date range of early hominins’ activity from the Early and Middle Pleistocene to the later period of the Late Pleistocene.

The lithic assemblage analysis suggests that the stone artefacts were made of local pebbles/cobbles such as greywacke, quartz, sandstone and igneous rocks. The main percussion techniques that were used were direct hard hammer and bi-polar. The artefacts comprise hammer stones, cores, flakes, retouched tools and flaking debris. Acheulian-type large cutting tools such as hand-axes, picks and cleavers were identified in the Lantian region as well.

A divergent tradition

According to current archaeological research, the Acheulian complex originates in Africa approximately 1.7 million years ago and spreads to both Europe and Asia with the dispersal of Homo erectus, lasting until approximately 0.2 million years ago with the advent of Homo sapiens and the replacement by the Mousterian complex and associated blade technologies.

“Our new discoveries of hand-axes, picks and cleavers indicate that the Acheulian large cutting tools in the Lantian region lasted until the Late Pleistocene, which suggests that the Palaeolithic industry in East Asia had its own distinctive development pattern that perhaps differed from western Palaeolithic industry in terms of chronology,” said Wang Shejiang, lead author of the study.

He explains, “when the transition from the Acheulian complex to the Middle Stone Age (MSA) was accomplished and blade technology finally appeared with the emergence of modern humans in Africa and Europe, the Acheulian complex, including hand-axes, cleavers and picks continued in the Qinling Mountains area and, of course, in East Asia.“

Therefore, this new discovery in the Lantian region can be considered valuable for several reasons, including; identifying Palaeolithic industry characteristics in East Asia; the ability to compare between the west and east in terms of Palaeolithic culture; and finally a potential to re-examine behavioural technologies concerning modern human origins in East Asia.
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References:

Past Horizons. 2014. “Chinese palaeolithic finds show distinctive development patterns”. Past Horizons. Posted: June 3, 2014. Available online: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/06/2014/chinese-palaeolithic-finds-show-distinctive-development-patterns

Saturday, July 19, 2014

3,200 year-old trousers found in Silk Road graves

A recent study of remarkable finds from the Silk Road appears to confirm the assumption that the development of modern day trousers was closely connected with the beginnings of horse riding.

Some years ago, an archaeological team discovered fragments of trousers contained within two separate tombs. The woollen fabric has been radiocarbon dated to between 1300-1000 BC.

Warrior horsemen

The Yanghai cemetery near the Turfan oasis, western China was discovered by local villagers in the early 1970s, and by 2003, more than 500 tombs had been excavated. The contents of two of these graves were of interest to this particular study; the first being a chamber containing a mummified body of a 40 year-old individual. Altogether, the burial contained 41 well preserved artefacts made of bronze, wood, gold, stone, shell, leather, and wool. A leather bridle decorated with bronze buttons and plaques and an attached wooden horse-bit hung from a stick near the interred individual’s head. Tell-tale indications that this was the grave of a warrior came from the battle axe and leather bracer that were included within the burial chamber.

A second tomb revealed another less well preserved pair of trousers that were similar in style. The deceased individual was again approximately 40 years of age at death and his grave goods included a whip, a decorated horse tail, bow sheath and bow.

Trouser construction

The trousers were made of three independently woven pieces of fabric; rectangular pieces for each leg spanning the whole length from waistband to ankle, and one stepped cross-shaped crotch-piece which bridged the gap between the two side-pieces. The cloth did not appear to be cut, but each part was made on the loom to the correct size in order to fit a specific person. The crotch-piece was made substantially wider than needed for a normal stride. Instead it was made to allow sideward movement of the legs in a wide arc, allowing the wearer maximum freedom to take big strides forward as well as to mount and straddle a horse.

Dating to around 3,200 years old, the trousers come from a time when the first warriors on horseback appeared in the steppes of Eurasia and represent the earliest modern type trousers found so far. As a comparison, the Xinjiang mummies from the Xiaohe burial site which pre-date the Yanghai finds by three to six centuries were dressed in string skirts, leather boots and felt hats, but not in trousers.

Silk Road fashion

The investigations are part of the project “Silk Road fashion: communication through clothing of the 1st millennium BC in Central Asia”.

The project aims to reconstruct techniques and body knowledge, social structures, resource availability and trade networks in Central Asia between 1200 BC and AD 300. Methods of archaeology, textile and leather research, dye analysis, ornament custom, cut analysis, paleopathology, vegetation and climate research, cultural anthropology and linguistics are applied to clothing and equipment.

“Clothes maketh the Man” – this saying is valid as much today as it was 3000 years ago, because, like a second skin, clothes envelop the human body and provide a method of identification, even before a word is spoken. Communication via clothing is a means of expressing lifestyle and thought; it is an indicator of union or isolation. The project “Silk Road Fashion” devotes itself to this subject by investigating textiles, some 3000 years old, uncovered in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwestern China. These extraordinary relics, which were naturally conserved due to the extremely arid climatic conditions prevailing in this region, are of great value in the investigation into the lives of the eastern central Asian population between 1000 BC and 300 AD.

The project analyses apparel that comprise approximately 100 finds and object groups. When, where and why did people wear a particular form of clothing and how was that clothing produced? Does it reveal gender, age or status specific features? If so, which technical methods were used to create those differentiations and can they be characterized as specialized fashions belonging to individual groups? An interdisciplinary group of five German and two Chinese partners, jointly co-operating, examines these questions for the first time.
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References:

Past Horizons. 2014. “3,200 year-old trousers found in Silk Road graves”. Past Horizons. Posted: June 7, 2014. Available online: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/06/2014/3200-year-old-trousers-found-in-silk-road-graves

Friday, July 18, 2014

Speaking 2 languages benefits the aging brain

New research reveals that bilingualism has a positive effect on cognition later in life. Findings published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, show that individuals who speak two or more languages, even those who acquired the second language in adulthood, may slow down cognitive decline from aging.

Bilingualism is thought to improve cognition and delay dementia in older adults. While prior research has investigated the impact of learning more than one language, ruling out "reverse causality" has proven difficult. The crucial question is whether people improve their cognitive functions through learning new languages or whether those with better baseline cognitive functions are more likely to become bilingual.

"Our study is the first to examine whether learning a second language impacts cognitive performance later in life while controlling for childhood intelligence," says lead author Dr. Thomas Bak from the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.

For the current study, researchers relied on data from the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, comprised of 835 native speakers of English who were born and living in the area of Edinburgh, Scotland. The participants were given an intelligence test in 1947 at age 11 years and retested in their early 70s, between 2008 and 2010. Two hundred and sixty two participants reported to be able to communicate in at least one language other than English. Of those, 195 learned the second language before age 18, 65 thereafter.

Findings indicate that those who spoke two or more languages had significantly better cognitive abilities compared to what would be expected from their baseline. The strongest effects were seen in general intelligence and reading. The effects were present in those who acquired their second language early as well as late.

The Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 forms the Disconnected Mind project at the University of Edinburgh, funded by Age UK. The work was undertaken by The University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, part of the cross council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (MR/K026992/1) and has been made possible thanks to funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC).

"The Lothian Birth Cohort offers a unique opportunity to study the interaction between bilingualism and cognitive aging, taking into account the cognitive abilities predating the acquisition of a second language" concludes Dr. Bak. "These findings are of considerable practical relevance. Millions of people around the world acquire their second language later in life. Our study shows that bilingualism, even when acquired in adulthood, may benefit the aging brain."

After reviewing the study, Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, an Associate Editor for Annals of Neurology and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. said, "The epidemiological study by Dr. Bak and colleagues provides an important first step in understanding the impact of learning a second language and the aging brain. This research paves the way for future causal studies of bilingualism and cognitive decline prevention."
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References:

EurekAlert. 2014. “Speaking 2 languages benefits the aging brain”. EurekAlert. Posted: June 2, 2014. Available online: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/w-stl052914.php