A team from the University of Reading will be presenting their research into the positive effects that being bilingual has on the brain.

The group looked at the brains of bilingual speakers and discovered that both the structure of their grey and white matter and their performance in tests increased compared to those who didn't use their second language regularly.

They have now turned their attention to how these benefits carry on in older age and keep brains healthy.

On February 21, members of the research team in the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism will be presenting their research on learning languages for a healthy brain at the University of Reading campus to promote the benefits of bilingualism.

Dr Christos Pliatsikas, an associate professor in psycholinguistics at the University of Reading. said: "The benefits of bilingualism are really exciting and may have a myriad of health implications for the future including having a preventative effect against dementia.

"In particular, the way that bilingualism has been shown to increase the volume of several brain areas that are usually connected to language learning and processing is promising.

"These effects suggest that the brain is capable of restructuring itself as a response to learning an additional language, but also as a response to the equally important task of juggling between two languages – using one language while suppressing the other at any given time.

"Importantly, it seems that how much and how well the bilingual speaker uses their second language is directly related to the effect on the brain, and also that these changes in brain structure disappear over time if the second language is not actively used.

"Based on these suggestions, our research wanted to investigate whether long-term bilingualism proves beneficial against brain decline, both in older healthy people and in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

"Preliminary evidence suggests that this might be the case, even in patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis."

The event will take place from 8pm - 9pm in room G01, building L022 at the university.

To book a place, visit http://www.reading.ac.uk/15/about/newsandevents/Events/Event790542.aspx.