People who want protection against Alzheimer's might want to pick up a second language, LiveScience reports. York University researchers found that bilingual people who suffered from Alzheimer's had cognitive impairment comparable to sufferers who were 4 to 5 years younger—essentially, being bilingual seems to have bought them additional years of normal brain function.
Being bilingual doesn't prevent getting the disease, the researchers stress: It just makes the brain more able to cope with it. That may be because bilinguals use more of the executive control system of the prefrontal cortex. "It's the most important part of your mind," says the lead researcher. "It controls attention and everything we think of as uniquely human thought." (Read more Alzheimer's Disease stories.)