Urdu couplets are elixir for brain; learning the language helps prevent dementia

Urdu couplets are elixir for brain; learning the language helps prevent dementia

Reading an Urdu couplet is not only a delight for your soul but also an elixir for your brain. A recent study by the Center for Bio-Medical Researches (CBMR), Lucknow, suggests that reading Urdu passages helps in brain development.

The work, which has made it to the recent edition of international journal 'Neuroscience Letters', has shown that reading the language involves predominant involvement of the frontal brain which controls a number of cognitive functions like decision making, the ability to determine good from bad, emotional control, coping with stress, processing information and analysing. Learning Urdu also has a role in delaying the onset of dementia, besides helping children with learning disabilities.

Uttam Kumar, a faculty member in the department of neuroimaging at CBMR, who conducted the research on subjects from the city, said the conclusion was drawn on the basis of mapping the brain of subjects when they read Urdu text for a stipulated time. The mapping was done using functional magnetic resonance imaging technique, a world-class technology used to study structural and functional aspects of the brain.

Learning of a language creates a certain pattern in the brain which can be identified by linking different neurons involved. Joining all dots refers to mapping. Though the basic contour of this pattern for all languages is the same, the structure tends to differ at a micro level because of scripts and subsequent speech sounds (phonetics). Languages are also differentiated on the basis of orthography or difference between grapheme (seeing written letters) and phoneme (encoding and translating the written into spoken letters) mapping.

"We used grapheme-phoneme mapping which divides languages into 'transparent' (easy to learn) or 'deep' (difficult to learn). For example: Hindi and German are transparent while English and French are deep. Urdu is the deepest language and therefore reading it involves more areas of the brain, which is good for mental health," said Kumar adding, "Urdu has two more advantages over others — visual complexity of letters and direction of writing."

The study found that reading Urdu involved dominant participation of the middle and superior regions of the frontal part of the brain. "Both these areas control majority of cognitive functions of the brain such as decision making, emotional control, coping with stress, analying things and processing information," he said adding that its role in decision making was most important. "It governs the ability to determine the good from the bad along with consequences of action," he stated, citing the Journal of Cognitive Neurosciences.

The work examined effects of graphene-phoneme mapping over neural regions in bilingual people and suggested that Hindi and Urdu made a good combination. "This works very well because they are mutually comprehensible languages and have a shared vocabulary," Kumar said. Researchers at Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, have already shown that bilingualism delays the age of onset of Alzheimers and other dementia. It also found that the Urdu-Hindi combo was beneficial for children with learning disabilities, particularly dyslexia, as it improves functioning of the visual cortex.

What is Dementia :
Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that cause a long term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember such that a person's daily functioning is affected. Other common symptoms include emotional problems, problems with language, and a decrease in motivation. A person's consciousness is not affected. For the diagnosis to be present it must be a change from a person's usual mental functioning and a greater decline than one would expect due to aging. These diseases also have a significant effect on a person's caregivers.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease which makes up 50% to 70% of cases. Other common types include vascular dementia (25%), Lewy body dementia (15%), and frontotemporal dementia. Less common causes include normal pressure hydrocephalus, Parkinson's disease, syphilis, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease among others. More than one type of dementia may exist in the same person. A small proportion of cases run in families. In the DSM-5, dementia was reclassified as a neurocognitive disorder, with various degrees of severity.Diagnosis is usually based on history of the illness and cognitive testing with medical imaging and blood work used to rule out other possible causes. The mini mental state examination is one commonly used cognitive test. Efforts to prevent dementia include trying to decrease risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and obesity. Screening the general population for the disease is not recommended.

There is no cure for dementia. Cholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil are often used and may be beneficial in mild to moderate disease. Overall benefit, however, may be minor. For people with dementia and those who care for them many measures can improve their lives. Cognitive and behavioral interventions may be appropriate. Educating and providing emotional support to the caregiver is important. Exercise programs are beneficial with respect to activities of daily living and potentially improve outcomes. Treatment of behavioral problems or psychosis due to dementia with antipsychotics is common but not usually recommended due to there often being little benefit and an increased risks of death.

Globally, dementia affects 36 million people. About 10% of people develop the disease at some point in their lives. It becomes more common with age. About 3% of people between the ages of 65–74 have dementia, 19% between 75 and 84 and nearly half of those over 85 years of age. In 2013 dementia resulted in about 1.7 million deaths up from 0.8 million in 1990. As more people are living longer, dementia is becoming more common in the population as a whole. For people of a specific age; however, it may be becoming less frequent, at least in the developed world, due to a decrease in risk factors. It is one of the most common causes of disability among the old. It is believed to result in economic costs of 604 billion USD a year.People with dementia are often physically or chemically restrained to a greater degree than necessary, raising issues of human rights.Social stigma against those affected is common.

An Article from TOI - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/Urdu-couplets-are-elixir-for-brain-learning-the-language-helps-prevent-dementia/articleshow/46424531.cms

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