February 18, 2009

Mental activities reduce memory loss risk

Reading, playing games, using a computer or working on crafts in middle age or later reduce the risk of memory loss, U.S. researchers recommend.

The study involved 197 people between the ages of 70-89 with mild cognitive impairment, or diagnosed memory loss, and 1,124 people that age with no memory problems. Both groups answered questions about their daily activities within the past year and in middle age, when they were between ages 50 and 65.

The study found people who participated in social activities and read magazines during middle age were about 40 percent less likely to develop memory loss than those who did not.

This study is exciting because it demonstrates that aging does not need to be a passive process. By simply engaging in cognitive exercise, you can protect against future memory loss, Dr. Yonas Geda, the study author and neuropsychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a statement.

Of course, the challenge with this type of research is that we are relying on past memories of the participants, therefore, we need to confirm these findings with additional research.

The findings are to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st annual meeting in Seattle, April 25-May 2.