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Language and cognitive abilities in multilingual healthy aging (completed)

Language and cognitive abilities in bilingual and multilingual healthy aging: Evidence from Norway. 

Subproject of Multilingual Dementia


Valantis Fyndanis.

Photo: Nadia Frantsen, UiO.

About the project

It is well established that healthy older speakers exhibit age-related decline in linguistic and cognitive abilities. A growing body of research suggests that bilingualism or multilingualism is associated with significant cognitive benefits. For instance, it has been shown that being bilingual/multilingual delays the onset of dementia (e.g., Craik, Bialystok, & Freedman, 2010). If this is correct, however, bilingualism/multilingualism should have beneficial effects also for healthy older individuals. In particular, we would expect bilingualism/multilingualism to delay the onset of age-related decline in linguistic and cognitive abilities. Interestingly, a recent study (Chertkow et al., 2010) found that multilingualism but not always bilingualism delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Based on these findings, we would also expect healthy multilinguals to have greater cognitive and linguistic abilities than bilinguals.       

Against the above background, this project focuses on linguistic and cognitive abilities, including memory and executive functions, in bilingual and multilingual healthy aging. It has three main goals:

  1. To investigate the patterns of age-related language and cognitive decline in healthy older individuals who are non-immigrant native speakers of Norwegian.
  2. To explore the relationship between age-related language and cognitive decline.
  3. To investigate whether bilingualism and multilingualism have differential effects on language and cognitive decline in healthy aging.

All the participants will have Norwegian as their L1 and English as L2. Multilingual participants will have any language as L3. The investigation of cognitive abilities will focus on verbal working memory capacity, semantic memory integrity, processing speed, and executive functions. At the linguistic level, the study will explore the morphosyntactic, syntactic, and lexical abilities of the participants, in both production and comprehension. Off-line and on-line experimental methods will be used.


September 2015 – August 2018

Published Oct. 15, 2015 4:16 PM - Last modified Apr. 21, 2020 11:48 AM


Valantis Fyndanis

Tel: +47 -22 84 42 95


Detailed list of participants