"Why our brains need languages: cognitive effects of language learning and multilingualism".
A guest lecture on the benefits of bilingualism
by Dr Thomas Bak on 6 June 2019
arna chur ar fáil ag/hosted by
Lárionad na Gaeilge: Taighde, Teagasc agus Tástáil
Centre for Irish Language Research, Teaching and Testing
6 Meitheamh/June 2019, 6PM
Arts and Humanities Institute, Room 1.33 Iontas Building, North Campus,
Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co. Kildare
Recent studies suggest that multilingualism could slow down cognitive ageing, delay the onset of dementia and improve the cognitive outcome after stroke, building a new and exciting bridge between multilingualism research on one hand and psychology, neurology and neuroscience on the other. Can learning new languages and active use of more than one language in every-day life have beneficial effects on cognition and mental health? Could such effects be observed across the whole of the lifespan, even in later life? And which other factors might influence them? Could language learning and use of different languages be one of the most ancient forms of cognitive activity, going back into our distant evolutionary past?
The opinions (and the evidence) are divided, but certain patterns seem to emerge, linking language learning and use to the concept of cognitive reserve. This new perspective of language learning and multilingualism reflects also a shift in our understanding of the brain, from strict modular models of the last century to the dynamic current models emphasising lifelong neuroplasticity.
Born and raised in Cracow, Poland, Dr Thomas H Bak studied medicine in Germany and Switzerland, obtaining his doctorate with a thesis on acute aphasias in Freiburg, Germany. He worked clinically in psychiatry, neurology and neurosurgery in Bern, Berlin, Cambridge and Edinburgh, with a particular interest in the relationship between language, cognitive and motor functions. 2010-2018 he was president of the World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Aphasia, Dementia and Cognitive Disorders (WFN RG ADCD). In recent years, Dr Bak’s work focused on the impact of language learning and multilingualism on cognitive functions across the lifespan and in brain diseases such as dementia and stroke. His studies include a wide range of populations, from students to elderly, from early childhood bilinguals to second languages learners, from Scotland, through India to Singapore. Not surprisingly, in his free time, Dr Bak enjoys particularly learning languages.
Soláistí ar fáil i ndiaidh na léachta.
Refreshments available after the lecture.
Please register before the 4 June 2019 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org nó/or (+353) 1 708 3737. Please note that places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.