Navigation Links
Reading, writing and playing games may help aging brains stay healthy

CHICAGO Mental activities like reading and writing can preserve structural integrity in the brains of older people, according to a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

While previous research has shown an association between late-life cognitive activity and better mental acuity, the new study from Konstantinos Arfanakis, Ph.D., and colleagues from Rush University Medical Center and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago 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.

"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," Dr. Arfanakis said.

The researchers used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method known as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to generate data on diffusion anisotropy, a measure of how water molecules move through the brain. In white matter, diffusion anisotropy exploits the fact that water moves more easily in a direction parallel to the brain's axons, and less easily perpendicular to the axons, because it is impeded by structures such as axonal membranes and myelin. "This difference in the diffusion rates along different directions increases diffusion anisotropy values," Dr. Arfanakis said. "Diffusion anisotropy is higher when more diffusion is happening in one direction compared to others."

The anisotropy values in white matter drop, however, with aging, injury and disease.

"In healthy white matter tissue, water can't move as much in directions perpendicular to the nerve fibers," Dr. Arfanakis said. "But if, for example, you have lower neuronal density or less myelin, then the water has more freedom to move perpendicular to the fibers, so you would have reduced diffusion anisotropy. Lower diffusion anisotropy values are consistent with aging."

The study included 152 elderly participants, mean age 81 years, from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a large-scale study looking at risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. Participants were without dementia or mild cognitive impairment, based on a detailed clinical evaluation. Researchers asked the participants to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 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.

Participants underwent brain MRI using a 1.5-T scanner within one year of clinical evaluation. The researchers collected anatomical and DTI data and used it to generate diffusion anisotropy maps.

Data analysis revealed significant associations between the frequency of cognitive activity in later life and higher diffusion anisotropy values in the brain.

"Several areas throughout the brain, including regions quite important to cognition, showed higher microstructural integrity with more frequent cognitive activity in late life," said Dr. Arfanakis. "Keeping the brain occupied late in life has positive outcomes."

According to Dr. Arfanakis, diffusion anisotropy drops gradually beginning at around age 30. "Higher diffusion anisotropy in elderly patients who engage in frequent cognitive activity suggests that these people have brain properties similar to those of younger individuals," he said.

The researchers will continue to follow the study participants with an eye toward comparing the diffusion anisotropy results over time.

"In these participants, we've shown an association between late-life cognitive activity and structural integrity, but we haven't shown that one causes the other," Dr. Arfanakis said. "We want to follow the same patients over time to demonstrate a causal link."


Contact: Linda Brooks
Radiological Society of North America

Related medicine news :

1. Writing Using the Eyes Might Help Paralyzed Communicate
2. Content Writing King Announces Cancellation Of Experimental Video Creation Process For Their Article Marketing Website
3. Article Marketing Company Content Writing King Announces Training Of New Graphic Design Artist
4. Can Playing Soccer Lead to Brain Damage?
5. Is your memory playing tricks on you? Check your medicine cabinet!
6. Canadian researcher is on a mission to create an equal playing field at the Paralympic Games
7. Playing Several Sports Keeps Kids Slimmer: Study
8. Study finds that single mothers can reduce stress by playing, engaging with children
9. Huddersfield professors ground-breaking research shows just how well the 2012 Games were run
10. Do Video Games Promote Reckless Driving in Certain Teens?
11. Serious games could be integrated into surgical training subject to validation
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... For the first time, Vitalalert is donating half ... ” campaign. The partnership between the two groups began in 2014 with Vitalalert pledging ... , MAP International was founded in 1954 and is an international Christian-based health organization ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... On November 25, 2015, officials of Narconon Arrowhead ... the release of a new cutting edge recovery program that has been 50 years ... drug- and alcohol-addicted individuals with the purpose to free addicts from the symptoms and ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Smiles by Stevens is pleased to announce the ... While many patients are aware of the benefits of Botox® in the treatment of ... suffering with discomfort, soreness, and pain as a result of Jaw Tension, TMJ (temporo-mandibular ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... MI (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... In ... Presence Resurrection Medical Center (RMC) in Chicago, IL, UV Angel is evaluating the efficacy ... medical and surgical intensive care units (totaling 30 beds) from May 2014 through October ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... In honor ... Periwinkle Pioneers, individuals and groups responsible for advancing care for pulmonary hypertension (PH) ... nominated by the public, will receive special recognition throughout 2016 as part of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... plc (NYSE: AGN ) today announced that it has ... Attorney General,s Office to end the litigation under ... the Attorney General over the decision of Forest Laboratories, Inc., ... now generic version of memantine immediate release tablets.  Under the ... counterclaims against New York , and has ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN ... Therapeutics, a start-up  biotechnology company focused on the ... and funded by the F-Prime Biomedical Research Initiative ... an exclusive collaboration to support the discovery and ... (ASD) and Obsessive Compulsive disorders (OCD). ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 --> ... blood glucose devices was valued at $11,171.1 million in ... CAGR of 5.7% during 2015 - 2022. The global ... increasing prevalence of diabetes. In addition, the increase in ... also contributing to the growth of the market. Furthermore, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: