Alzheimer's is a debilitating disease that affects over 5 million people in this country alone. Research has shown that learning two more languages could help you fight the disease. But, common languages like English, Spanish and French might not be the only ones that can help you keep your brain healthy. Some research now suggests that learning computer code could fight off Alzheimer's, too.
Evy Woumans of Ghent University was the lead author on a study that found that bilingual participants developed Alzheimer's 4.6 years later than patients that only spoke one language. She speculates that learning more than one language can slow brain aging by helping individuals develop more gray matter density and white matter integrity in the brain.
"Bilinguals are not able to shut down one of their languages completely while conversing," she told Motherboard. “In other words, their two languages are constantly simultaneously activated, which can be seen as some type of mental workout.”
Some researchers now believe learning to code is similar to learning another spoken language. If that's the case, it could have similar effects on brain health.
Another study took a look at the brain activity of 17 subjects while they were reading pieces of code. It found similarities between a coder's brain activity a bilingual's brain activity.
"We found [the] first empirical evidence that both, natural language and programming language, require the same areas in the brain," she said. “Based on this, we can infer that understanding programming languages and natural languages appear to be similar.”
There's still a lot of work to be done before researchers can say for sure if coding can help you fight off brain aging and Alzheimer's. But, if it can, that's just another reason to learn this valuable skill.
Want to try your hand at coding? Click here to start learning.