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Principal Investigator  
Principal Investigator's Name: Giovanna Bubbico
Institution: ITAB, Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies
Department: Neurosciences, imaging, clinical sciences
Proposed Analysis: Being bilingual is better: learning a second language has a positive role in youth, it can increase cognitive performances and can contrast cognitive decline and brain disorders in aging. Speaking multiple languages is not only useful, but is also a support to oppose the effects of age on the brain and to prevent risks related to dementia. In bilinguals the normal age-related cognitive decline is considerably slowed down and has also been shown that to be bilingual has consequences on cognitive domains such as fluid intelligence, memory performances, speed information processing, verbal fluency, learning , visuospatial functions, attentional resources and executive functions such as the ability of abstraction and mental flexibility. Aging leads to a decline in cognitive abilities with changes at both the trophic and synaptic level, while the aging bilingual brain shows a preservation of the posterior regions (including temporal and parietal cortex), as well as an enhanced connectivity between frontal and posterior areas, preserving the cognitive functions related to them. Our study wants to show that bilingualism is a protective factor in brain aging allowing the maintenance of higher cognitive performances. The research will therefore have the aim to detect a difference in brain plasticity and in the degree of the use of specific cortical areas in subjects, bilingual and not, during aging. Emphasis will therefore focus on the effects of bilingualism on the normal deterioration of brain activity associated with advancing of age. We that in mind we ask for MRI, fMRI, DTI and cognitive assessment data of 30 bilingual subjects aged between 55 and 75 years and 30 monolingual subjects, of both sexes and free of diseases related to aging and psychiatric disorders. The investigation will be carried out analyzing data to highlight the status of functional connectivity between different brain regions. This information will be complemented by structural resonance data and psychometric assessments aimed to investigate the different cognitive domains. We will then proceed to the comparison of the two different populations, highlighting the different levels of morphological and functional alterations. Our study, supported by data from the fMRI and cognitive tests want to prove the positive effect of bilingualism on the process of brain degeneration associated to normal aging. Additionally we will do a complete evaluation of morphological and volumetric cortical thickness to check morphological differences.
Additional Investigators