Published: Feb 18, 2011 9:24 PM EST
Updated: Feb 18, 2011 6:25 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists say mastering a second language can pump up your brain in ways that seem to delay getting Alzheimer's disease later on.

While the new research focuses mostly on the truly long-term bilingual, scientists say even people who tackle a new language later in life stand to gain.

Psychology professor Ellen Bialystok at York University in Toronto studied 450 people with Alzheimer's. Those who were bilingual were diagnosed between four and five years later than those who spoke only one language. Speaking two languages does nothing to prevent Alzheimer's disease from striking though.

She discussed her research Friday at a science meeting in Washington.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)