Cognitive Activities Beneficial in Preclinical Dementia
Intellectually stimulating activity significantly delays the onset of accelerated memory decline
05 aug 2009-- In older adults who are destined to develop dementia, those who frequently engage in intellectually stimulating leisure activities such as reading, writing, crossword puzzles, board or card games, group discussions, or playing music may significantly delay the onset of memory decline, according to a study published in the Aug. 4 issue of Neurology.
Charles B. Hall, Ph.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., and colleagues studied 488 adults ages 75 to 85 years who were free of dementia when they were enrolled in the Bronx Aging Study in 1980 to 1983, including 101 who developed incident dementia during follow-up.
The researchers found that each additional activity day spent in intellectually stimulating leisure activities at baseline was associated with a delay of 0.18 years in the onset of accelerated memory decline. After the decline began, however, they found that each additional activity day was associated with a more rapid rate of memory decline (0.14 Selective Reminding Test points per year).
"Our findings show that late life cognitive activities influence cognitive reserve independently of education," the authors conclude. "The effect of early life education on cognitive reserve may be mediated by cognitive activity later in life. Alternatively, early life education may be a determinant of cognitive reserve, and individuals with more education may choose to participate in cognitive activities without influencing reserve. Future studies should examine the efficacy of increasing participation in cognitive activities to prevent or delay dementia."
Several co-authors reported financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.