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Facebook May Boost Cognitive Skills

Posted Mar 17 2013 10:09pm
Posted on March 15, 2013, 6 a.m. in Lifestyle Brain and Mental Performance

With social media playing an ever more prominent role in how people communicate today, preliminary research findings from the University of Arizona (Arizona, USA) suggest that men and women ages 65+ could boost their cognitive function by learning to use Facebook.  Janelle Wohltmann facilitated Facebook training for 14 older adults, ages 68 tto 91 years, who had either never used the site or used it less than once a month. They were instructed to become Facebook friends only with those in their training group and were asked to post on the site at least once a day.  A second group of 14 non-Facebook using seniors instead was taught to use an online diary site,, in which entries are kept private, with no social sharing component. They were asked to make at least one entry a day, of no more than three to five sentences to emulate the shortness of messages that Facebook users typically post. The study's third group of 14 was told they were on a "wait-list" for Facebook training, which they never actually completed. In the follow-ups 8 weeks later, those who had learned to use Facebook performed about 25% better than they did at the start of the study on tasks designed to measure their mental updating abilities. Participants in the other groups saw no significant change in performance. 

Wohltmann J.  Presentation at International Neuropsychological Society Annual Meeting, February 2013.

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Anti-Aging Forum MLDP Join A4M
Tip #136 - Live Healthy, Live Longer
A number of studies validate lifestyle and other modifiable factors to promote a long and healthy lifespan:

• Cambridge University (United Kingdom) researchers report that healthy lifestyle choices can extend lifespan by 14 years. In a study of 20,000 men and women, ages 45 to 79, conducted for 13 years, Kay-Tee Khaw and colleagues found that those study subjects with the lowest number of healthy behaviors were four-times more likely to die, most notably from cardiovascular disease. Specifically, the team found that study participants with the lowest healthy lifestyle scores had the same risk of dying as someone with the highest healthy lifestyle scores who was 14 years older. The lifestyle change with the biggest benefit was smoking cessation, associated with an 80% improvement in lifespan. The second most significant change was increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Thirdly, moderate drinking; and fourthly, staying physically active, rounded out the four most beneficial lifestyle choices to extend lifespan.
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Georgia USA) researchers studied data collected on 23,153 German men and women, ages 35 to 65 years, who participated in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. The team found that four lifestyle factors -- namely never smoking, having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or less, exercising 3.5 hours a week and eating a healthy diet – slashed the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer by a staggering 80%.

Lifestyle choices including not smoking, eating fresh foods, engaging in regular exercise, minimizing psychological stress, and drinking in moderation are basic tenets of the anti-aging lifestyle. By embracing these concepts, not only might we extend how long we may live, but how well. A prolonged healthspan -- the length of time that we are able to live productively and independently – is, in many ways, as important as an extended lifespan.
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