Learning a foreign language is arguably one of the best ways to exercise the brain, as the process of learning a new language requires an immense amount of brain activation in various areas of the brain. When the brain hears a word, the brain immediately begins to analyze the sounds to make sense of what is being said. This process of understanding and formulating responses engages different parts of the brain at once. Various executive functions are utilized and developed in the process, including attention, memory, reasoning, organization, and planning. In fact, these parts of the brain are notably larger in bilingual people than in monolinguals, making them able to manage complex situations and switch back and forth between tasks with more ease.
Recent studies have estimated Alzheimer's disease to be the third leading cause of death among the elderly, just behind cancer and heart disease, affecting more than 5 million Americans today. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder of the brain that compromises memory and cognitive functioning. Degenerative changes occur in the brain, making every day activities more and more challenging until the person becomes unable to care for themself. Additionally, Alzheimer's is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly population, accounting for 60%-70% of dementia cases, which results in further loss of cognitive functioning. Even the easiest, most commonly performed tasks in a person's life become impossible.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) categorizes a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect about 1 in 68 children, 1 in 42 boys, making it the most rapidly growing developmental disorder in the US today. One of the most notable characteristics of someone affected by autism is difficulty communicating or socializing with others, even in early infancy. Repetitive and limiting behavior is another common, recognizable quality that may point to ASD, although symptoms vary greatly.