Author, Michael Valenzuela
Associate Professor & Leader of Regenerative Neuroscience Group, Brain & Mind Research Institute at University of Sydney
“Use it or lose it” is a catch-cry that applies to the brain as well as the body. For some time now, researchers have known that, in general, people who stay more mentally active throughout their lives tend to have a lower risk of developing dementia in their later years. Why this is has been much less clear.
Research my group has recently published sheds light on this interesting and potentially very powerful biology. We started off with a broad interest in “cognitive lifestyle”, a term used to describe a person’s lifetime patterns of learning new things, engaging with others, and challenging the mind.
In this study, cognitive lifestyle was measured by asking each person about their educational experiences, classifying how complex and demanding the main job was during their working years, and more currently, how often they were catching up with family and friends.