Being Super Busy May* Be Good For Your Brain (Smithsonian Magazine):
“There hasn’t been much scientific research on busyness itself, although it’s something that we talk about so often,” explains Sara Festini, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Vital Longevity, a co-author of the new research published this week in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. “So we wanted to look at the relationship of a generally very busy lifestyle to cognition.”
Festini and colleagues found that middle-aged and older Americans who keep themselves busy test better across a whole range of different cognitive functions like brain processing speeds, reasoning and vocabulary. The memory of specific events from the past, or episodic memory, is especially enhanced among busy people, they report…
But the strong correlation shown between busyness and brain function also raises an intriguing chicken-and-egg question: Does busyness boost the brain, or might people with better cognitive powers be more likely to keep themselves busy?
Study: The Busier the Better: Greater Busyness Is Associated with Better Cognition (Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience)
- Abstract: Sustained engagement in mentally challenging activities has been shown to improve memory in older adults. We hypothesized that a busy schedule would be a proxy for an engaged lifestyle and would facilitate cognition. Here, we examined the relationship between busyness and cognition in adults aged 50–89. Participants (N = 330) from the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study (DLBS) completed a cognitive battery and the Martin and Park Environmental Demands Questionnaire (MPED), an assessment of busyness. Results revealed that greater busyness was associated with better processing speed, working memory, episodic memory, reasoning, and crystallized knowledge. Hierarchical regressions also showed that, after controlling for age and education, busyness accounted for significant additional variance in all cognitive constructs—especially episodic memory. Finally, an interaction between age and busyness was not present while predicting cognitive performance, suggesting that busyness was similarly beneficial in adults aged 50–89. Although correlational, these data demonstrate that living a busy lifestyle is associated with better cognition.
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