Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, May 7, 2014

Learning new skills, the biggest boost to senior brain

Filed under: Brain — admin @ 1:48 am

On 5/5/2014, I heard this news on NRP when I was walking in the morning. “Seniors who learned more difficult skills like digital photography and Photoshop showed the greatest improvement in memory.” Research shows “Only people who learned a new skill had significant [brain] gains.” “The greatest improvement was for the people who learned digital photography and Photoshop.” It must be the most challenging of all activities.

The article is based on this research — “The Impact of Sustained Engagement on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Synapse Project.” Below is the abstract of the article.

“In the research reported here, we tested the hypothesis that sustained engagement in learning new skills that activated working memory, episodic memory, and reasoning over a period of 3 months would enhance cognitive function in older adults. In three conditions with high cognitive demands, participants learned to quilt, learned digital photography, or engaged in both activities for an average of 16.51 hr a week for 3 months.

Results at posttest indicated that episodic memory was enhanced in these productive-engagement conditions relative to receptive-engagement conditions, in which participants either engaged in nonintellectual activities with a social group or performed low-demand cognitive tasks with no social contact. The findings suggest that sustained engagement in cognitively demanding, novel activities enhances memory function in older adulthood, but, somewhat surprisingly, we found limited cognitive benefits of sustained engagement in social activities.”

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