Dr Thomas Bak is a neuroscientist investigating how bilingualism affects our brains, and the benefits that this can have in later life. He has researched how bilingualism impacts people’s cognitive ageing, recovery from stroke and – significantly – can delay the symptoms of dementia by up to 5 years.
Thomas H Bak started life surrounded by language and has cherished a life-long interest in the subject ever since. Born in Poland to a German-speaking mother and Polish-speaking father, Thomas’s studies and work have taken him around the world, studying medicine in Germany, the UK and Switzerland before working clinically in psychiatry, neurology and neurosurgery in Berne, Berlin and Cambridge.
Later on, as part of his role as president of the World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Aphasia, Dementia and Cognitive Disorders, Thomas organised teaching courses in cognitive neurology (“Cognitive Clinics Worldwide” scheme) across the world, from South America, through the Middle East and India to East Asia.
Now based at the University of Edinburgh, Thomas’s current work is mainly concentrated on developing a link between multilingualism and improvements in cognitive functions. He works across a wide range of populations, from young adults to octogenarians in countries around the world and is a highly respected voice in the world of linguistics, appearing on television, radio and podcasts.
An additional dimension in his life with languages is his now 7-year-old daughter Alba, whose questions about the three languages she has been exposed to (namely Spanish, Polish and English) has been a constant source of inspiration for thinking about languages and multilingualism.
Thomas is a supporter of the Babel Babies multilingual approach, and he and I have collaborated on the ‘science’ behind Babel Babies. We also run the International Day of Multilingualism together on 27th March every year with the #multilingualisnormal hashtag. I am delighted that he is adding his extensive knowledge and experience in the field of multilingual neurology to the Babel Babies team.
Thomas will be hosting an exclusive webinar every three months for members of our all-star Estrellita package. You are invited to send questions in advance and will be able to ask questions live on the webinar as well.