Aging smartly?

Visiting the library, playing chess and similar mental activity may help sustain the brain health among elderly individuals

Old man playing chess
Old man playing chess

Some of the elderly individuals are quite sharp in their thinking. Where as some grandpas are quite slow. A new study studied this phenomenon and tried to explore the brain health of the elders who were more mentally active. “Does the brain get frazzled due to the activity or does it improve?” was a question the research tried to look into.

“Reading the newspaper, writing letters, visiting a library, attending a play or playing games, such as chess or checkers, are all simple activities that can contribute to a healthier brain,” Dr Konstantinos Arfanakis says in his research presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Dr Arfanakis,and colleagues from Rush University Medical Center and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago studied how late-life cognitive activity affect the brain’s white matter

The study included 152 elderly participants, with an average age of 81 years, from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a large-scale study investigating risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers asked the participants to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 the frequency with which they participated in a list of mentally engaging activities during the last year. Among the activities were reading newspapers and magazines, writing letters and playing cards and board games.

Participants underwent brain MRI scans within one year of clinical evaluation. The researchers collected anatomical and DTI data and used it to generate values on the health of the white matter of their brains.

Data analysis revealed significant associations between the frequency of cognitive activity in later life and better white matter in the brain.

“Several areas throughout the brain, including regions quite important to cognition, showed higher microstructural integrity with more frequent cognitive activity in late life,” said Dr. Arfanakis. “Keeping the brain occupied late in life has positive outcomes.”

“In these participants, we’ve shown an association between late-life cognitive activity and structural integrity, but we haven’t shown that one causes the other,” Dr. Arfanakis said. “We want to follow the same patients over time to demonstrate a causal link.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here