Washington: A new study has found that by taking up mental challenges like digital photography or quilting may help maintain cognitive vitality one can maintain a healthy ageing mind.
Recent evidence suggests that engaging in enjoyable and enriching lifestyle activities may be associated with maintaining cognitive vitality. However, the underlying mechanism accounting for cognitive enhancement effects have been poorly understood.
Investigators at the University of Texas proposed that only tasks that involved sustained mental effort and challenge would facilitate cognitive function. Senior author Denise Park and lead author Ian McDonough compared changes in brain activity in 39 older adults that resulted from the performance of high-challenge activities that required new learning and sustained mental effort compared to low-challenge activities that did not require active learning.
The findings show that mentally demanding activities may be neuroprotective and an important element for maintaining a healthy brain into late adulthood.
Senior author Denise C. Park said that the present findings provide some of the first experimental evidence that mentally-challenging leisure activities can actually change brain function and that it is possible that such interventions can restore levels of brain activity to a more youth-like state.
He added, however, they would like to conduct much larger studies to determine the universality of this effect and understand who will benefit the most from such an intervention.
Meanwhile researcher Ian McDonough said that the study clearly illustrates that the enhanced neural efficiency was a direct consequence of participation in a demanding learning environment.
The findings superficially confirm the familiar adage regarding cognitive aging of use it or lose it.
The research is published in the Journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.