TV Connected With Mind Atrophy

(Feb. 23, 2009) SEATTLE: Older people who watch too much TV are at greater risk of memory loss than those who don’t spend as much time in front of the boob tube, neurologists found. In a study to be presented at the April meeting of the National Academy of Neurology, researchers demonstrated that a little mind exercise delayed and even staved off memory loss. Conversely, older folks who watched TV for more than seven hours a day were 50 percent more likely to have memory loss than those who watched less.

The study included 197 people with “mild cognitive impairment” between the ages of 70 and 89; and 1,124 individuals in the same demo with no diagnosed memory issues. They were asked questions about their daily activities over the last year and when they were between the ages of 50 and 65. Those who spent more time reading, crafting, playing games or using a computer were 30 to 50 percent less likely to develop memory loss than those who sat in front of the TV set more than seven hours daily. Those who read magazines and had a social life in the 50-65 zone were 40 percent less likely to experience memory loss down the line.

“This study is exciting because it demonstrates that aging does not need to be a passive process. By simply engaging in cognitive exercise, you can protect against future memory loss,” said study author Yonas Geda, M.D., M.Sc., a neuropsychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “Of course, the challenge with this type of research is that we are relying on past memories of the participants, therefore, we need to confirm these findings with additional research.”