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Lifelong Learning

Could learning a new language "remodel" the brain?

When some people retire, they choose to pick up a new language and learn about a different culture. This may not only provide a useful skill to retirees when they travel abroad, but new research indicates it could also help keep the brain active. 

"The evidence is very dramatic. Even if you are in a context that is utterly monolingual, where you think there is absolutely no reason to think about Chinese or Spanish or French, it is part of the activated network that's going on in your brain," psychologist Ellen Bialystok told NPR.

One reason for the ongoing mental activity is because the vocabulary of two distinct languages has to be kept separated by the brain at all times. In a sense, this is a way you can continually exercise your mind to help ensure that you stay sharp.

Bialystok added that there is an emerging body of evidence that shows that being bilingual may physically "remodel" some parts of the brain.

Del Webb retirement communities such as Sun City Anthem in Florence, Arizona, are partnered with lifelong leaning institutes so that residents have access to top-tier universities. So, whether you want to learn a new language - or about history, economics or English - it's just a matter of signing up for a class.  

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