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Older Women Who Are Avid Watchers of the Tube Have Cognitive Difficulties

New research conducted by Joshua Fogel, an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Brooklyn College of the City University// of New York said that elderly women who watch daytime soap operas and talk shows are more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment.

Researchers do not point out that TV watching is the sole cause of weak brainpower and that another explanation might be at work.

But there is a definite link between these two. Fogel conducted the federally funded study to understand the role played by TV and its impact on the brains of older women. The study analyzed older women living in Baltimore aged between 70-79 years. The researchers asked the women about their favorite types of TV shows, offering a list of 14 options including news, soap operas, comedies and game shows, among others.

The women also took tests that measured their memory, decision-making abilities and other cognitive skills. Fogel and his colleague looked for patterns linking cognition abilities and the women's favorite TV shows. Their findings appear in the Southern Medical Journal.

It was very surprising to know that women who watched talk shows were 7.3 times more likely to have long-term memory problems while those who watched soap operas were 13.5 times more likely to have problems with attention. Fogel mentioned the other study conducted to analyze the effects of television watching on children.

He said that viewing television reduces active mental engagement and may lead to poorer cognitive outcomes in older people. On the other hand Albert Einstein College of Medicine neurologist Dr. Joe Verghese said that, depending on the program, television viewing might even have cognitive benefits. But Fogel believes that the study findings are more than just a curiosity and asks the doctors to take them into account when they evaluate patients.


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