Researchers have found that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, even late in life, may protect against new-onset mild cognitive impairment, which is the intermediate stage between normal cognitive aging and dementia. The study found that cognitively normal people 70 or older who engaged in computer use, craft activities, social activities and playing games had a decreased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. The results were published in JAMA Neurology.
The researchers followed 1,929 cognitively normal participants for an average duration of four years. After adjusting for sex, age and educational level, researchers discovered that the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment decreased by 30 percent with computer use, 28 percent with craft activities, 23 percent with social activities, and 22 percent with playing games.
Researchers conducted a neurocognitive assessment at the time of enrollment in the study, with evaluations every 15 months. Following the assessment, an expert consensus panel made the classification of normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment for each study participant, based on published criteria.
The benefits of being cognitively engaged even were seen among apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 carriers. APOE ε4 is a genetic risk factor for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s dementia. However, for APOE ε4 carriers, only computer use and social activities were associated with a decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment.
Paper: “Association Between Mentally Stimulating Activities in Late Life and the Outcome of Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment, With an Analysis of the APOE ε4 Genotype”
Reprinted from materials provided by Mayo Clinic.