Computer Use, Exercise May Save Memory
Study Shows Mental and Physical Exercise May Help Protect Against Memory Loss
WebMD News Archive
Cutting Risk of Cognitive Impairment continued...
When the researchers took into account other risk factors for mild cognitive
impairment, they found that "the beneficial joint effect of moderate physical
exercise and computer use was more than what would be predicted from the
arithmetic sum of the two," Geda says.
The researchers did not distinguish between different types of computer
The findings support other research showing that both physical and mental
exercises are good for the brain, says Julie Schneider, MD, of Rush University
Medical Center in Chicago, who moderated the session at which the study was
What is new here, she says, is the suggestion that both activities are
better than either alone.
Mental Skills: Use Them or Lose Them
A second study presented at the meeting suggests that when it comes to
mental skills, use them or lose them.
The researchers looked at cognitive reserve -- "the extra capacity that you
have to accomplish tasks mentally," says Bruce Reed, MD, professor of neurology
at the University of California at Davis.
"We all have some reserves, some have more than others," he tells WebMD.
"They protect us when we get disease or injury."
In older people, studies have shown that the amount of brain pathology at
autopsy, such as abnormal clusters of brain cells called plaques and tangles,
is a good measure of mental reserve, Reed says.
The study involved about 700 elderly people who had undergone autopsies. The
researchers found that the more mind-building exercises such as reading books
and playing games that participants did throughout life, the greater their
cognitive reserves at death.
Similarly, people with more education had greater cognitive reserve at
death, the study shows.
When the researchers looked further, they found that the effect of cognitive
activities was more important than education.
"If you have only a high school education and do a lot of cognitive actives
throughout life, you'll have greater cognitive reserves. If you have a college
education and don’t do anything with it, that predicts lower reserves and less
protection against dementia and other injury," Reed tells WebMD.