Mind Games Could Help Delay Dementia But Not Completely Protect From it
22 Jan, 2011 - 08:04am
Engaging in mental activities such as crosswords, puzzles can keep you mentally fit but it may cost you later in life. The recent study was an effort of researchers from Rush University Medical Center Chicago funded by the US National Institute of Health and published in the journal Neurology.
All this while being mentally active was thought to lower the risk of cognitive decline and symptoms of dementia but this study has shown that once dementia sets in there is a gradual decline on mental activity. The researchers of this study were of the opinion that mental activity protected the functioning of the brain but it does not protect the buildup of the lesions in the brain associated with dementia. With this opinion the researchers set out to find if what they thought was right.
The study recruited 1,157 people aged over 65 having no signs of dementia at the beginning of the study. The researchers had developed rating system using a five point scale, where 5 points were assigned to a mental activity done every day and 1 point meant once a year or less. The activities included in the study were watching TV, reading, doing crosswords and visiting museums. The participants were asked to rate all these activities using the five point scale. The ratings were then used to make an overall estimation of how often people engaged in mentally stimulating activities. The participants were also four performance tests used to assess the cognitive ability of a person. They were all followed up for 12 years.
At the end of the study, it was found that 614 people had no problems relating to their mental activity, 395 had mild problems while 148 had Alzheimer’s disease. The group without any cognitive impairment showed a reduction of 52% decline in their brain function for each additional point on the cognitive activity scale. And the group with Alzheimer’s disease, there was an increase of 42% in the decline of their brain function for each point of the cognitive activity scale. In simple terms it means that once dementia sets in there is a faster decline in the mental activity of a person.
The study had a large number of participant ranging from no impairment to dementia, were followed up for a long period and used recognized methods of assessing cognitive function thus increasing its reliability. In spite of that it had some limitations like influence of other factors such as education, society, genetics etc were not considered. A further research would probably tell us the reasons behind this association.
For now keep your mind healthy and fit by reading, puzzle solving, watching TV. But make sure that whatever activity you take up it does not leave you mentally strained. Simple, easy level of mental stimulation would help you more.