Mentally active people 'at lower risk of experiencing cognitive decline'

People who are kept mentally active throughout their life are at a lower risk of experiencing cognitive decline when they are older, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have observed how people who have had a good education in their youth, enjoy a career where work isof a complex nature and are socially active, help to boost the brain's ability to stay healthy.

The study, which was funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Medical Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, also discovered that such people were more likely to experience mental impairment or dementia for a much shorter period before death, which indicates that they are able to enjoy a better quality of life for longer.

"We have shown previously that keeping the brain active is linked to a reduced risk of developing dementia, but these findings show it is also linked to a slower rate of cognitive decline," commented lead author Dr Riccardo Marioni, an Alzheimer’s Research UK fellow.

"We also show that mental activity could help reverse the initial stages of cognitive decline. It is still unclear exactly how an active lifestyle could be protecting the brain as we age. One theory is that mental activity strengthens or reroutes nerve cell connections, making our brain more resilient to damage."

Posted by Philip Briggs

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