Being bi-lingual, walking and beating addictions

October 14, 2010 3:03:39 PM PDT
According to new research, speakers of two languages have an added advantage when it comes to performing tasks. Speaking a second and even a third language can be a social advantage for many people. My producer speaks 3 languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese.

I learned to speak French some years ago and I can tell you it's a great advantage socially. Now scientists are finding out more about how the brains of bilingual people function.

Scientists who have studied children over many years have found that fluently speaking more than one language takes a lot of mental work.

Researchers from UCLA say that speaking more than one language can help our brains multi-task more efficiently.

It happens because language takes place in the executive brain, according to the study.

Bi- and multi-lingual people are practiced at turning off one set of rules to incorporate a new set when they switch languages.

Benefits of walking

New research suggests there's something we can do to keep our brains going into old age: Walk at least six miles a week.

"People who were walking about 72 blocks per week, or 6 to 9 miles a week, actually had a lower chance of developing some kind of memory loss- about half," Dr. Ronan Factora of the Cleveland Clinic.

The scientists at the University of Pittsburgh say they need to do more research into this, which appears to be a cheap and easy anti-aging practice.

"They also measured their brains and what they found was that after 9 years people who were walking that much on a regular basis also had a decreased risk of brain shrinkage over time," Dr. Kirk Erickson, lead research at the University of Pittsburgh, said.

Battling addition

The FDA is now looking into a new tool to battle addiction to prescription drugs.

Many people develop addictions to illegally used painkillers such as Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin.

Addiction doctors now use methadone to wean addicts off painkillers.

The new tool being considered? A monthly injection of a drug called Naltrexone. It blocks the high from the painkillers.

The downside: long-term use leaves the brain hypersensitive so any new use of addictive type painkillers will bring on a quick high risking a new addiction.