First Advisor

Dr. Ashley Fricks-Gleason

Thesis Committee Member(s)

Dr. Tom Howe and Dr. Lara Narcisi


Dr. Gabriela Carrión


Regis College

Degree Name


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

53 pages


Dementia is the second leading cause of death (accounts for 16.5%) and the leading cause of dependency and disability worldwide (GBD 2016 Neurology Collaborators, 2019). This burden associated with dementia falls heavily on family members, communities, and the individuals themselves. When looking at global dementia cases, the numbers are on the rise and expected to triple by 2050 (World Health Organization, 2019; Robinson, Stephan, & Magklara, 2019). The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), which accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases (DeTure & Dickson, 2019). Characterized by memory impairment and cognitive decline, AD later impacts behavior, speech, visuospatial orientation, and the motor system (DeTure & Dickson, 2019). Specifically, it leads to atrophy of the brain in multimodal association cortices, limbic lobe structures, gyri in frontal and temporal cortices, posterior cortical areas, the amygdala, and hippocampus (DeTure & Dickson, 2019). One way to delay the onset of AD is through lifelong bilingualism. In addition to other brain changes, increased grey matter can be found in the temporal lobe and orbitofrontal cortex (Abutalebi et al., 2015). This increased grey matter builds-up at a young age and is maintained throughout a lifetime. This allows it to act as a defense against neuroanatomical changes and atrophy commonly associated with AD (Abutalebi et al., 2015; Green & Abutalebi, 2016). More specifically, bilingualism has been found to delay AD development by an average of 4.7 years (Brini et al., 2019).

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado