Complex occupations help protect our brains from aging-related cognitive decline

Cog­ni­tive aging: Work helps our brain (AAAS):

A recent study shows that work plays an active role in keep­ing our brains healthy. “We have demon­strat­ed the role of work­ing activ­i­ty on cog­ni­tive per­for­mance”. Pro­fes­sor Raf­fael­la Rumiati says … “Many stud­ies have been focused on the fac­tors influ­enc­ing our brain aging and dif­fer­ences in cog­ni­tive decline have been often observed in asso­ci­a­tion with edu­ca­tion or oth­er relat­ed to qual­i­ty of life. From our analy­sis it emerges that the type of work activ­i­ty also con­tributes to the dif­fer­ences in nor­mal and patho­log­i­cal cog­ni­tive aging”.

… Par­tic­i­pants were assessed with a series of neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests and sub­se­quent­ly divid­ed into three types of pro­files based on the results: sub­jects at risk of cog­ni­tive decline, sub­jects with mild decline and sub­jects with severe decline.

The tests were repeat­ed twice a few years apart. Depend­ing on whether they man­tained or wors­ened their pro­file based on their ini­tial per­for­mance, par­tic­i­pants were clas­si­fied as “resis­tant” or “declin­ing”.

The results demon­strate ben­e­fits of cog­ni­tive mobi­liza­tion pro­mot­ed by life­long learn­ing and that social con­nec­tion, ongo­ing sense of pur­pose and abil­i­ty to func­tion inde­pen­dent­ly large­ly affect cog­ni­tive health and gen­er­al well-being along the tra­jec­to­ries of aging.

The Study:

Pro­tec­tive fac­tors for sub­jec­tive cog­ni­tive decline indi­vid­u­als: tra­jec­to­ries and changes in a lon­gi­tu­di­nal study with Ital­ian elder­ly (Euro­pean Jour­nal of Neu­rol­o­gy). From the Abstract:

  • Back­ground and pur­pose: Many dif­fer­ent fac­tors have been hypoth­e­sized to mod­u­late cog­ni­tion in an aging pop­u­la­tion accord­ing to their func­tion­ing at baseline.
  • Results: At base­line, all indi­vid­u­als showed edu­ca­tion and occu­pa­tion as the best pre­dic­tors of per­for­mance, in addi­tion to age. Fur­ther­more, across assess­ments, the resis­tant had high­er lev­els of edu­ca­tion and occu­pa­tion than the declin­ing. In par­tic­u­lar, the edu­ca­tion and occu­pa­tion pre­dict­ed cog­ni­tive per­for­mance in all groups con­sid­ered, from the sub­jec­tive cog­ni­tive decline to the one with the most severe­ly impaired participants.
  • Con­clu­sions: This study high­lights the role of work­ing activ­i­ty in pro­tect­ing from cog­ni­tive decline across all frag­ile elder­ly groups and even more so the indi­vid­u­als who are at very high risk of decline.

The Study in Context:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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