Study finds mental activities may prevent cognitive impairment

New research shows that engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help protect against future mild cognitive impairment.
By Amy Wallace   |   Jan. 30, 2017 at 2:26 PM

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Mayo Clinic researchers have that found seniors who engage in mentally stimulating activities are at less risk of developing mild cognitive impairments.

The study showed that adults over the age of 70 who did mentally stimulating activities such as working on a computer, crafts, social activities and games, were at a decreased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, the stage between normal cognitive aging and dementia.

"Our team found that persons who performed these activities at least one or two times per week had less cognitive decline than those who engaged in the same activities only two to three times per month or less," Dr. Yonas Geda, psychiatrist and behavioral neurologist at the Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus and senior author of the study, said in a press release.

The study followed 1,929 cognitively normal participants in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging in Olmsted County, Minn., for an average of four years.

Results showed the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment decreased by 30 percent with computer use, by 28 percent with craft activities, by 23 percent with social activities, and by 22 percent with game play.

"Our previous cross-sectional study had found an association between engagement in mentally stimulating activities in late life and decreased odds of mild cognitive impairment," Geda said. "However, those findings were considered preliminary until confirmed by a prospective cohort study that we are now reporting in JAMA Neurology."

Researchers found improvements in cognitive impairment with mentally stimulating activities in participants who were APOE e4 carriers, APOE e4 is a genetic risk factor for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.

The study was published in JAMA Neurology.

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