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Higher levels of social activity decrease the risk of cognitive decline
Date:4/25/2011

es of memory (episodic, semantic and working memory), as well as perceptual speed and visuospatial ability.

At the start of the investigation, all participants were free of any signs of cognitive impairment. Over an average of five years, however, those who were more socially active showed reduced rates of cognitive decline. On average, those who had the highest levels of social activity (the 90th percentile) experienced only one quarter of the rate of cognitive decline experienced by the least socially active individuals. Other variables that might have accounted for the increase in cognitive declinesuch as age, physical exercise, and healthwere all ruled out in the analysis.

Why social activity plays a role in the development of cognitive problems is not clear. According to James, one possibility is that "social activity challenges older adults to participate in complex interpersonal exchanges, which could promote or main efficient neural networks in a case of 'use it or lose it.'"

Future research is needed to determine whether interventions aimed at increasing late-life social activity can play a part in delaying or preventing cognitive decline, James said.


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Contact: Sharon Butler
Sharon_Butler@rush.edu
312-942-7816
Rush University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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