Does mental stimulation help fight age-related cognitive decline?

  • A large study found that mentally stimulating activities in mid-life and later were linked to a lower risk or delay of MCI.
  • A very large study found that the more regularly older adults played puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the better they performed on tasks assessing attention, reasoning and memory.
  • A review of 32 studies has concluded that mind-body exercises such as tai chi do help improve cognition in older adults.

Can computer use, crafts and games slow or prevent age-related memory loss?

A study involving 2,000 healthy older adults (average age 78) found that mentally stimulating activities were linked to a lower risk or delay of MCI, and that the timing and number of these activities may also play a role.

During the study, 532 participants developed MCI.

Using a computer in middle-age (50-65) was associated with a 48% lower risk of MCI, while using a computer in later life was associated with a 30% lower risk, and using a computer in both middle-age and later life was associated with a 37% lower risk.

Engaging in social activities, like going to movies or going out with friends, or playing games, like doing crosswords or playing cards, in both middle-age and later life were associated with a 20% lower risk of developing MCI.

Craft activities were associated with a 42% lower risk, but only in later life.

Those who engaged in two activities were 28% less likely to develop MCI than those who took part in no activities, while those who took part in three activities were 45% less likely, those with four activities 56% percent less likely and those with five activities were 43% less likely.

It should be noted that activities in middle-age were assessed by participants’ memory many years later.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-07/aaon-ccu071019.php

Regular crosswords & sudoku linked to sharper brain in later life

Data from the PROTECT online platform, involving 19,000 healthy older adults (50-96), found that the more regularly older adults played puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the better they performed on tasks assessing attention, reasoning and memory.

In some areas the improvement was quite dramatic, for example, on measures of problem-solving, people who regularly do these puzzles performed equivalent to an average of eight years younger compared to those who don't.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-05/uoe-rca051419.php

Mind-body exercises improve cognitive function in older adults

A meta-analysis of 32 randomized controlled trials with 3,624 older adults with or without cognitive impairment has concluded that mind-body exercises, especially tai chi and dance mind-body exercise, help improve global cognition, cognitive flexibility, working memory, verbal fluency, and learning in older adults.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-12/w-mem121718.php

Reference: 

Krell-Roesch, J., Syrjanen, J. A., Vassilaki, M., Machulda, M. M., Mielke, M. M., Knopman, D. S., … Geda, Y. E. (2019). Quantity and quality of mental activities and the risk of incident mild cognitive impairment. Neurology, 93(6), e548. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000007897

Brooker, H., Wesnes, K. A., Ballard, C., Hampshire, A., Aarsland, D., Khan, Z., … Corbett, A. (2019). The relationship between the frequency of number-puzzle use and baseline cognitive function in a large online sample of adults aged 50 and over. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 34(7), 932–940. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.5085

Brooker, H., Wesnes, K. A., Ballard, C., Hampshire, A., Aarsland, D., Khan, Z., … Corbett, A. (2019). An online investigation of the relationship between the frequency of word puzzle use and cognitive function in a large sample of older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 34(7), 921–931. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.5033

Wu, C., Yi, Q., Zheng, X., Cui, S., Chen, B., Lu, L., & Tang, C. (2019). Effects of Mind-Body Exercises on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 67(4), 749–758. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15714

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