Many research studies tell us that keeping the mind active with stimulating activities in our later years may help prevent cognitive deficits and memory decline. A new study, published in the American Academy of Neurology’s magazine, Neurology, shows a new twist to previous research on brain stimulation in seniors. Reported on ScienceDaily.com, the study looked at subjects that were tested every year for approximately six years before their deaths at an average age of 89. What was different about this research was it examined the mental activities of the participants over the course of their entire lifetime.
The tests were designed to measure subjects’ memory and cognitive processes. In addition, they were asked to answer a questionnaire about what reading, writing or other stimulating activities they regularly participated in throughout their childhood, adolescence, middle age, and now at their present age. When the research subjects died, their brains were autopsied for signs of dementia – evidenced by plaques or tangles.
Keep Reading, Writing and Stimulating the Brain
What was particularly interesting and significant in the results was that those participating in the brain-stimulating tasks, both in their early and later lives showed a much slower rate of decline than those who didn’t engage in similar life-long patterns of mental activities. The study’s author, Robert S. Wilson, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, suggests, “We shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.”
Strong evidence – a 32% reduction in mental decline for those engaging in a lifetime of mental activity – should keep us all reading and writing.