Older individuals who remain mentally active and who take advantage of opportunities to learn new information seem to be significantly less likely to show signs of mental decline.

How to Keep Your Brain Limber

From Massachusetts General Hospital’s Mind, Mood & Memory

“Here’s some good news for older adults!  A new study suggests that regular mental workouts can do for your gray cells what heart-pounding exercise routines do for your body: increase fitness and restore the vigor of youth.

To determine whether engaging in activities that make demands on the brain can help preserve cognitive vitality, scientists recruited a group of older adults and randomly assigned them to one of two groups.  One group engaged in mentally stimulating, high-challenging activities, spending 15 hours per week for 14 weeks learning quilting or digital photography.  The other group spent an equal amount of time engaged in low-challenge pursuits, such as playing simple games, watching movies or listening to music.  All participants underwent cognitive testing and brain scans to measure brain activity at the beginning and end of the study, and a smaller number of participants were tested again a year later.

According to a paper published October 20, 2015 in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, the high-challenge group showed improved brain performance after participating in the study and upon retesting a year later, scoring higher on measures of memory and increasing in efficiency in brain regions responsible for attention and language processing.”  Read more


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