It’s one of the unfortunate facts of life: As we age, brain function often declines.
But new research from Arizona State University finds that older honeybees turned back the clock on brain aging when they took on new duties, such as caring for baby bees, that were usually handled by younger members of the colony. The findings, published recently in the journal of Experimental Gerontology, suggest that social interventions — changing how you deal with your surroundings — could be used to treat or slow dementia in humans.
“We show that social relationships can heal older brains,” said ASU professor Gro Amdam, who led a 15-member team of scientists from ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences on the three-year research project.
The research indicates that people can use their social lives as a tool to help their brains stay younger as they grow older. Older people could slow, and perhaps even overturn, some aspects of brain aging by enjoying social activities that they did when they were younger, she said. Taking care of children may have particularly positive effects, but other activities, such as imaginary play, starting a band or engaging in cooperative two- or multiplayer video games, may have similar benefits, Amdam said.