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AAN: Brain Exercise May Prevent Cognitive Impairment

Reading, games, crafts and computer activities may help slow memory loss in older adults

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- In middle and older age, reading and other mentally stimulating activities may help prevent mild cognitive impairment, according to research that will be presented April 25-May 2 at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle.

Yonas Geda, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues surveyed 1,321 adults aged 70 to 89 -- including 1,124 cognitively normal subjects and 197 subjects with mild cognitive impairment -- about their cognitive activities during the past year and when they were aged 50 to 65.

The investigators found that later-life activities significantly associated with decreased odds of mild cognitive impairment were reading books, playing games, craft activities such as quilting and pottery, computer activities and watching less than seven hours of television per day (odds ratios, 0.67, 0.65, 0.66, 0.50 and 0.48, respectively). The researchers report that the only mid-life activities significantly associated with decreased odds of mild cognitive impairment were going out with friends and reading magazines (odds ratios, 0.58 and 0.57, respectively).

"This study is exciting because it demonstrates that aging does not need to be a passive process," Geda said in a statement. "Of course, the challenge with this type of research is that we are relying on past memories of the participants, therefore, we need to confirm these findings with additional research."

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