Louisa did her BA in German as a foreign language. Even though she enjoyed teaching tremendously, she also wanted to learn more about (neuro-)linguistic research, which is why she did the ReMa Language & Cognition in Groningen. She was involved in the PhD projects "Learning to preserve" and "Language learning never gets old" as a research assistant and intern. For her MA thesis, she investigated the cognitive influence of third-age language learning using resting-state EEG, which serves as a measure of neuroplasticity. In her thesis, she compared the EEG data of two studies, in which the length and intensity of the language training differed in order to tackle the question "How little is enough?". Though she is no longer enrolled at the RUG, she is still involved in two projects with Mara van der Ploeg concerning third-age language learning needs and a conversation analysis of the third-age classroom. Louisa is now a PhD candidate at the University of Bamberg, where she will investigate the effect of learning a language or doing a combined physical and cognitive training on healthy seniors and seniors on the dementia continuum. She will be co-supervised by Merel Keijzer and Greg Poarch.
Learning to preserve: Foreign language training as a cognitive “vaccine” to prevent old-age disorders?
In this project we assess the effect of a bilingual experience, in terms of a foreign language training, on cognitive flexibility: the ability to change your behaviour and thoughts according to new, changing or unexpected events. Besides that, we evaluate the unique role of foreign language training versus other cognitive training programs or social engagement aspects involved in any training for seniors. We study the changes in the brain as a result of these training programs and focus on cognitive flexibility and the effect on the health of elderly people at risk for depression and cognitive decline.
Language learning never gets old - implicit and explicit language learning in seniors
This project extends the recent work of bilingualism as a possible anti-ageing tool to monolingual seniors by introducing the bilingual experience later in life. Mixed results have been found in the few studies investigating the effects of language training for seniors, most likely due to several pitfalls in their designs Therefore, we developed a new method to overcome these issues. We look into the cognitive effects of language learning in older adulthood using behavioural tasks as well as neuro-imaging. Additionally, the PhD project investigates seniors' language learning needs and wellbeing in regards to foreign language learning for the first time.