On the Fringes

Two CCACE members took part in the Cabaret of Dangerous ideas at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
(The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is coordinated by the Beltane Public Engagement Network) 

What keeps you sharp?

Alan Gow based his show “What Keeps You Sharp?” on his team’s recently completed nationwide survey, in which over 3000 people aged 40 and over from across the UK participated.

The show appeared twice in the programme, with over 180 people attending across the two dates. The Fringe audiences were asked to consider questions including “When do our thinking skills start to decline?” and “Are the changes in thinking skills due to our genes or lifestyles?”. Each question led to discussion of the audience responses, how those matched the nationwide survey, and then back to the latest research findings.

The key question was, of course, “What keeps us sharp?” and the audience suggestions allowed reference to many of the research findings from the Lothian Birth Cohorts studies at Edinburgh.

The Ageing Lab are currently recruiting people aged 65 or over for their study on activity in older age.  See www.healthyageing.hw.ac.uk for more details.

Is monolingualism making us ill?

In his Fringe show, Thomas Bak proposed that there is nothing ‘natural’ about monolingulism: it is a "disease of the civilisation", like obesity and diabetes[1]. In health terms he compared it to a sedentary lifestyle - the results are accelerated cognitive ageing, earlier onset of dementia and a slower recovery from stroke.


But, just as we can improve our physical heath by voluntary exercise, we can also improve our mental agility by learning languages. And, as our research shows, it is never too late to start it. We found measurable improvements on tests of attention after just one week of intensive language courses and this in participants up to 78-years old!



Bak TH, Mehmedbegovic D (2017) Healthy linguistic diet: the value of linguistic diversity and language learning. Journal of Languages, Society and Policy. Published on-line 21 May 2017

Read our review/commentary articles

If you would like to access our cognitive ageing and cognitive epidemiology review and/or commentary papers then click here

Join our mailing list

Please email ccace@ed.ac.uk


What research work does CCACE do?

CCACE examines cognitive ageing from a range of perspectives.

Find out what our research groups do by clicking here

CCACE KE Activities

 CCACE engages in many forms of knowledge exchange, engaging with schools, the general public, media, business and policy makers.

Find out more here.

News and stories for CCACE

Find out about some of our CCACE news items, read stories on some of our past activities and access our newsletters by clicking here

CCACE Software and Resources

 Click here to access our freely available CCACE software and resources for:

Guide to systematic reviews and meta-analysis / R programming script / Deary-Liewald Reaction Time Test / summary results for data sharing