An Active Brain Declines More Slowly than an Idle Brain

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

This fact has great "face validity" and makes sense to most of us. More evidence of the value of mental activity was published last week in Neurology.

According to a five-year study on 488 persons aged 75-85, participating in at least 11 mentally rigorous exercises per week had a decelerating effect on memory loss among those who were demented. To clarify, the study found that, if one becomes demented due to some medical condition and, if one stays very mentally active, the expected decline in memory will be delayed compared to those demented persons who are not as mentally active.

One key point is that the study participants who were shown to delay memory loss participated in a high number (eleven) of diverse mental exercises per week. This does not suggest that the daily crossword or computer game will produce the same effect. While all mental activity is probably useful in some capacity, it is important to note that the effects in this study were produced with a fairly rigorous agenda of mental activity.

The bottom line is that exercising the brain adequately may feel more like work than like play but the benefits are likely worth the effort.

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