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Bilingualism delays clinical manifestation of Alzheimer's disease*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2014

Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University
Department of Neurology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent University
Department of Neurology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent University
Department of Neurology, Brussels University Hospital, Vrije UniversiteitBrussel
Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University
Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University
Address for correspondence: Evy Woumans Department of Experimental PsychologyGhent University Henri Dunantlaan 2, B9000, Gent,


The current study investigated the effects of bilingualism on the clinical manifestation of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in a European sample of patients. We assessed all incoming AD patients in two university hospitals within a specified timeframe. Sixty-nine monolinguals and 65 bilinguals diagnosed with probable AD were compared for time of clinical AD manifestation and diagnosis. The influence of other potentially interacting variables was also examined. Results indicated a significant delay for bilinguals of 4.6 years in manifestation and 4.8 years in diagnosis. Our study therefore strengthens the claim that bilingualism contributes to cognitive reserve and postpones the symptoms of dementia.

Research Notes
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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The authors gratefully acknowledge support from Ghent University's Special Research Fund (BOF). They also thank Ghent University Hospital and Brussels University Hospital for their cooperation. This study received approval from the Ghent University Hospital Ethics Board in a Certificate of Research Approval dated 1st February 2013. Written informed consent was from all patients and their caregivers.


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