People who engage in mentally stimulating activities like reading, letter-writing (blogging?) or even visiting libraries, have a slower rate of mental decline when they get older.
294 people were studied over the last years of their lives and were given a memory test each year.
They were also asked how much they took part in mentally stimulating activities when they were younger, when middle-aged, and when old. Then when they dies their brains were examines for plaques and tangles, features associated with dementia.
The researchers discovered that those who had little mental stimulation early in life deteriorated 42% faster than those with average activities.
In turn those with only average activity levels declined 32% faster than those with the most intellectually stimulating childhood.
These results were similar for activities later in life.
The scientists from Rush University in Chicago, who published the results in the journal Neurology, said the results confirmed earlier work but were not clear about the reasons. “Neuro-imaging research suggests that cognitive activity can lead to changes in brain structure”. “The results suggest that reading and writing more and doing activities that stimulate the brain, regardless of your age, can slow down late-life cognitive decline.”