Want to keep your brain sharp as you age? Then learn a new skill!
Michelle Castillo at CBSNews.com reports that a new study has found that engaging in brain-teasing activities like crossword puzzles or Suduko may not be enough to keep your mind sharp in old age.
The researchers looked at 221 people who were between the ages of 60 to 90.
One group learned a new skill -- either digital photography, quilting or both. The particular tasks were chosen because they involved active engagement, used working and long-term memory and other thinking processes.
Another group was told to do mentally-stimulating activities that they were used to doing, like listening to classical music and completing crossword puzzles.
A third group was told to do social activities that included field trips and entertainment.
Each group was told to engage in their assigned activity for 15 hours a week for three months.
At the end of the study, the researchers saw that those who learned something new had more improvements in their memory skills compared to the other groups.
Denise Park, co-director for the Center for Vital Longevity, says "the findings suggest that engagement alone is not enough. Only the groups that were confronted with continuous and prolonged mental challenge improved."
Dr. Park said they hope to follow up with the participants in a year and again after five years to see if they effects of learning new activities hold up over time.
By the way, another method that might help seniors boost memory banks is playing video games. Older people who learned a car racing and shooting game were able to improve their multitasking abilities and remember names better.I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.