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Reading or watching TV tonight?

booksBeing a Life­long Book­worm May Keep You Sharp in Old Age (

find­ings, pub­lished online today in Neu­rol­ogy, sug­gest that read­ing books, writ­ing and engag­ing in other sim­i­lar brain-stimulating activ­i­ties slows down cog­ni­tive decline in old age, inde­pen­dent of com­mon age-related neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases. In par­tic­u­lar, peo­ple who par­tic­i­pated in men­tally stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties over their life­times, both in young, mid­dle and old age, had a slower rate of decline in mem­ory and other men­tal capac­i­ties than those who did not…

Read­ing gives our brains a work­out because com­pre­hend­ing text requires more men­tal energy than, for exam­ple, pro­cess­ing an image on a tele­vi­sion screen.”

StudyLife-span cog­ni­tive activ­ity, neu­ropatho­logic bur­den, and cog­ni­tive aging (Neu­rol­ogy). From the Abstract:

  • Objec­tive: To test the hypoth­e­sis that cog­ni­tive activ­ity across the life span is related to late-life cog­ni­tive decline not linked to com­mon neu­ropatho­logic disorders.
  • Meth­ods: On enroll­ment, older par­tic­i­pants in a lon­gi­tu­di­nal clinical-pathologic cohort study rated late-life (i.e., cur­rent) and early-life par­tic­i­pa­tion in cog­ni­tively stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties. After a mean of 5.8 years of annual cog­ni­tive func­tion test­ing, 294 indi­vid­u­als had died and under­gone neu­ropatho­logic exam­i­na­tion. Chronic gross infarcts, chronic micro­scopic infarcts, and neo­cor­ti­cal Lewy bod­ies were iden­ti­fied, and mea­sures of β-amyloid bur­den and tau-positive tan­gle den­sity in mul­ti­ple brain regions were derived.
  • Con­clu­sions: More fre­quent cog­ni­tive activ­ity across the life span has an asso­ci­a­tion with slower late-life cog­ni­tive decline that is inde­pen­dent of com­mon neu­ropatho­logic con­di­tions, con­sis­tent with the cog­ni­tive reserve hypothesis.


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