Study: For better memory and thinking skills at age 70 (and beyond), play cards and board games from age 11


Cards, board games could ward off cog­ni­tive decline (UPI):

Play­ing cards and board games like chess, bin­go and Scrab­ble might be the men­tal work­out you need to keep your wits as you age, Scot­tish researchers suggest.

Peo­ple in their 70s who reg­u­lar­ly play board games score high­er on tests of mem­o­ry and think­ing skills than those who don’t. And 70-some­things who step up their game-play­ing are more like­ly to main­tain think­ing skills as they age, researchers say … Unlike read­ing, writ­ing, tak­ing class­es, vis­it­ing muse­ums, libraries or friends and rel­a­tives, games appear to more active­ly engage abil­i­ties like mem­o­ry, think­ing speed and rea­son­ing, Altschul said. “So, this fits with what we call the ‘use it or lose it’ the­o­ry, that exer­cis­ing your men­tal abil­i­ties more keeps them in bet­ter shape,” he said …

Peo­ple who played more games as they got old­er had less decline in men­tal skills in their 70s, par­tic­u­lar­ly in mem­o­ry func­tion and think­ing speed, researchers found.”

These lat­est find­ings add to evi­dence that being more engaged in activ­i­ties dur­ing the life course might be asso­ci­at­ed with bet­ter think­ing skills in lat­er life. For those in their 70s or beyond, anoth­er mes­sage seems to be that play­ing non-dig­i­tal games may be a pos­i­tive behav­iour in terms of reduc­ing cog­ni­tive decline.”

Dr. Drew Altschul at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh’s School of Phi­los­o­phy, Psy­chol­o­gy and Lan­guage Sciences

The Study:

Play­ing Ana­log Games Is Asso­ci­at­ed With Reduced Declines in Cog­ni­tive Func­tion: A 68-Year Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Cohort Study (The Jour­nals of Geron­tol­ogy: Series B). From the abstract:

  • Objec­tives: Play­ing ana­log games may be asso­ci­at­ed with bet­ter cog­ni­tive func­tion but, to date, these stud­ies have not had exten­sive lon­gi­tu­di­nal fol­low-up. Our goal was to exam­ine the asso­ci­a­tion between play­ing games and change in cog­ni­tive func­tion from age 11 to age 70, and from age 70 to 79.
  • Method: Par­tic­i­pants were 1,091 non­clin­i­cal, inde­pen­dent, com­mu­ni­ty-dwelling indi­vid­u­als all born in 1936 and resid­ing in Scot­land. Gen­er­al cog­ni­tive func­tion was assessed at ages 11 and 70, and hier­ar­chi­cal domains were assessed at ages 70, 73, 76, and 79 using a com­pre­hen­sive cog­ni­tive bat­tery of 14 tests. Games play­ing behav­iors were assessed at ages 70 and 76. All mod­els con­trolled for ear­ly life cog­ni­tive func­tion, edu­ca­tion, social class, sex, activ­i­ty lev­els, and health issues. All analy­ses were preregistered.
  • Results: High­er fre­quen­cy of play­ing games was asso­ci­at­ed with high­er cog­ni­tive func­tion at age 70, con­trol­ling for age 11 cog­ni­tive func­tion, and the major­i­ty of this asso­ci­a­tion could not be explained by con­trol vari­ables. Play­ing more games was also asso­ci­at­ed with less gen­er­al cog­ni­tive decline from age 70 to age 79, and in par­tic­u­lar­ly, less decline in mem­o­ry abil­i­ty. Increased games play­ing between 70 and 76 was asso­ci­at­ed with less decline in cog­ni­tive speed.
  • Dis­cus­sion: Play­ing games were asso­ci­at­ed with less rel­a­tive cog­ni­tive decline from age 11 to age 70, and less cog­ni­tive decline from age 70 to 79. Con­trol­ling for age 11 cog­ni­tive func­tion and oth­er con­founders, these find­ings sug­gest that play­ing more games is linked to reduced life­time decline in cog­ni­tive function.

The Study in Context:

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