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Mental activities may help aging brains stay healthy: study

11-26-2012 08:40 BJT

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Mental activities like reading and writing can preserve structural integrity in the brains of older people, according to a new study presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

While previous research has shown an association between late- life cognitive activity and better mental acuity, the new study studied what effect late-life cognitive activity might have on the brain's white matter, which is composed of nerve fibers, or axons, that transmit information throughout the brain.

The researchers used MRI to scan the brains of 152 people, average age 81. Participants were without dementia or mild cognitive impairment, based on a detailed clinical evaluation. Researchers asked the participants to rate on a scale of one to five 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.

There was a significant association between frequent mental activities and structural integrity in several areas of white matter in the brain, the investigators found.

"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," said Konstantinos Arfanakis, an associate professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, in a statement.

 

 

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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