A group of researchers at the Mayo Clinic has found that if elder people engage in several mentally stimulating activities, there could be a reduction in the risk of suffering mild cognitive impairment.

This illness is known as the stage between the regular cognitive aging and dementia, as it affects the patient’s memory skills but it allows the performing of regular daily tasks. The study found how the use of a computer, craft activities, social activities and even playing different games could decrease the risk of suffering mild cognitive impairment substantially.

Senior playing chess
The study was published in the latest edition of the journal JAMA. Image credit: University of Washington.

Study findings and recommendations

The Mayo Clinic conducted an investigation that lasted four years on average and studied almost 2000 participants with a normal cognitive condition. The research team stated that after the respective adjustment regarding sex, age, and educational level, they found that mild cognitive impairment condition risk can be decreased 30 percent with the use of a computer, 28 percent with craft activities, 23 percent when performing social activities, and up to 22 percent when playing different games.

Seniors waking
“Our team found that persons who performed these activities at least one to two times per week had less cognitive decline than those who engaged in the same activities only two to three times per month or less,” said Yonas Geda, M.D., psychiatrist and behavioral neurologist at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus and senior author of the study. Image credit: National Council on Aging.

The investigation team performed one neurocognitive assessment during the time of the enrollment for the study, with investigations procedures every 15 months in average. After the assessment, a group of experts from the Alzheimer Disease Research Center at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota determined whether each participant suffered from mild cognitive impairment condition or if the participant was in a normal cognitive stage.

Yonas Geda, a psychiatrist and behavioral neurologist at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus, stated that they had conducted previous investigations that could prove the relation between the performance of mentally stimulating activities and a decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment condition. However, those investigations were only considered as preliminary, as the official cohort study was presented to the journal JAMA this Monday.

Janina Krell-Roesch, Ph.D., the first author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher, talked about how even people who have a genetic predisposition to the MCI condition could improve their cognitive system when performing these brain activities.

The individuals who carry the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 have a bigger risk of suffering from MCI and Alzheimer’s dementia, and even in those cases, it was proven how things like computer use or social activities could reduce significantly that risk.

Dr. Geda and his whole team recognized that further investigations must be made to understand better how this condition can be treated, and therefore, to avoid a possible Alzheimer disease. Also, one of their primary objectives is to identify the mechanism that could explain precisely the link between mentally stimulating activities and cognitive improvement in elder people.

Source: Eurekalert!