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Hit the books for better memory

Created date

August 20th, 2013
A row of paperback books

If you’ve always been a bookworm, you may have better memory than people who don’t read regularly.

A new study published in the journal Neurology showed that people who frequently participated in reading, writing, and other activities that exercise the brain (such as crossword puzzles) throughout their lives (from childhood to old age) had a 32% reduction in the rate of memory decline than people with average mental activity. In addition, people with infrequent mental activity had a 48% rate of decline compared to the people with average mental activity.

Study participants answered questions about how much reading, writing, and other brain-stimulating activities they participated in, and then they were given memory and thinking tests for a period of about six years before their deaths. Researchers also examined their brains for evidence of plaques and tangles, which are hallmarks of dementia-related illness. After adjusting for the presence of these lesions, they determined that mental activity accounted for almost 15% of the difference in memory scores.

Researchers say the study shows that mentally-stimulating activities can be beneficial, even in later years.