Saskia Esmee Nijmeijer studied psychology (cognitive psychology and psychophysiology) at the University of Groningen and received her Master of Science degree in 2017. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at the Cognitive Neuroscience Center in the UMCG under the supervision of Prof. dr. Merel Keijzer, dr. Marie-José van Tol en Prof. dr. André Aleman. Her research focusses on what changes in the brain of elderly when they are learning a new language as compared to learning other new complex skills (learning to play an instrument, acquiring creative skills) and its effect on the risk for disorders of old age, including dementia and major depressive disorder. In her research, Saskia Nijmeijer uses various research methods such as EEG, fNIRS, questionnaires and psychological tests.
Learning to preserve: Foreign language training as a cognitive “vaccine” to prevent old-age disorders?
In this project, we assess the effect of 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.