Thesis topic

The influence of aging and Alzheimer’s disease on the language functioning of bilingual populations

  • Type
    Doctorate Post-doctorate
  • Keywords
    Alzheimer’s disease, Bilingualism, Neuropsychology, Language, Migration


The question of the influence of ageing on the bilingual populations’ linguistic skills stays little explored. This is notably due to a wrong idea that language abilities are little affected by the advance in age. However, the Belgian particularism, country with three official languages and a high rate of immigration, needs to examine the evolution of the bilingual populations’ cognitive skills. In particular, the impact of an aged Western Society combined with large migrant populations arrived during the XXe century, and now aged, makes this question really pregnant. This interrogation becomes even critical when the bilingual person develops dementia, as the Alzheimer’s disease (AD), causing language disorders. Then, questioning the impact of the disease on the bilingual linguistic skills could allow to develop adapted interventions and, more fundamentally, to understand the involution process in a single framework, linking cognitive functioning underlying bilingualism and language. The investigation of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease with particular bilingual migrant populations is much more relevant because these populations are often characterized by a weaker socio-economic environment, where the AD symptoms appear earlier, and then, are potentially more disabling. This project has three objectives: (i) studying the question of language attrition in bilingual Alzheimer’s disease patients, migrant or Belgian; (ii) studying the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on the quality of the bilingualism, considering the type of acquired languages; (iii) assessing the relevance of neuropsychological tests currently used with these populations and developing culturally and linguistically more appropriate tools. The elements of answers to these various issues will allow developing an intercultural perspective in gerontological care proposed by Belgian caregivers confronted with these specific populations.

About this topic

Related to
Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology
Laurent Lefebvre

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