'Brain exercises' may delay memory decline in dementia

August 3, 2009

People who engage in activities that exercise the brain, such as reading, writing, and playing card games, may delay the rapid memory decline that occurs if they later develop dementia, according to a study published in the August 4, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 488 people age 75 to 85 who did not have dementia at the start of the study. They were followed for an average of five years; during that time 101 of the people developed dementia.

At the beginning of the study, people reported how often they participated in six leisure activities that engage the brain: reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, playing board or card games, having group discussions, and playing music. For each activity, daily participation was rated at seven points, several days a week was rated at four points, and weekly participation was rated at one point.

The average was seven points total for those who later developed dementia, meaning they took part in one of the six activities each day, on average. Ten people reported no activities, and 11 reported only one activity per week.

The researchers then looked at the point when memory loss started accelerating rapidly for the participants. They found that for every additional activity a person participated in, the onset of rapid memory loss was delayed by 0.18 years.

"The point of accelerated decline was delayed by 1.29 years for the person who participated in 11 activities per week compared to the person who participated in only four activities per week," said study author Charles B. Hall, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY.

The results remained valid after researchers factored in the of the participants. "The effect of these activities in late life appears to be independent of education," Hall said. "These activities might help maintain brain vitality. Further studies are needed to determine if increasing participation in these activities could prevent or delay ."

Source: American Academy of Neurology (news : web)

Explore further: Walking and moderate exercise help prevent dementia

Related Stories

Walking and moderate exercise help prevent dementia

December 19, 2007

People age 65 and older who regularly walk and get other forms of moderate exercise appear to significantly lower their risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, ...

Depression increases risk of Alzheimer's disease

April 7, 2008

People who have had depression are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who have never had depression, according to a study published in the April 8, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Women over 90 more likely to have dementia than men

July 2, 2008

Women over 90 are significantly more likely to have dementia than men of the same age, according UC Irvine researchers involved with the 90+ Study, one of the nation's largest studies of dementia and other health factors ...

Can exercising your brain prevent memory loss?

February 17, 2009

Participating in certain mental activities, like reading magazines or crafting in middle age or later in life, may delay or prevent memory loss, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy ...

Having a parent with dementia may affect memory in midlife

February 18, 2009

People who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia may be more likely to have memory loss themselves in middle age, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.