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Healthcare Tips for Chapel Hill: Keeping Busy is Good for the Aging Brain

June 23, 2016

Healthcare plays an important role in aging. Researchers have recently found that busy older adults with busy lifestyles have better cognitive function than their less busy peers according to new studies. The University of Texas studied 330 healthy participants between the age of 50 and 89. Each person was asked about their daily lifestyle and underwent neuropsychological testing to judge their cognitive performance. Each person with a busy daily life was associated with improved working memory, reasoning, vocabulary and superior processing speed of the brain. A busy lifestyle also showed an improved episodic memory or the ability to remember specific events in the past.

Many of the participants had the same results regardless of education. The scientists could not conclude whether busyness improves cognition or if other factors are involved such as individuals with better cognition seek out a busier lifestyle or that busyness and cognition reinforce each other. Many on the team thought that busyness could improve by encouraging new learning or learning new skills which boost episodic memory. The study revealed that busy people improve their cognitive health by exposing themselves to more information and opportunities. The findings offered encouragement for staying active in middle to late adulthood.
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