You’ve heard the saying before: “use it or lose it.” Studies show that people who utilize their brains more—by furthering their education, learning a new language or musical instrument or keeping a rich network of relationships with family and friends—tend to have lower rates of dementia and problems with their thinking later in life. Nothing can completely prevent a certain amount of decline in cognitive functions that comes with age (that’s normal) but keeping the brain in good working order can lessen the consequences.
Here’s what the latest science suggests about what can—and can’t—prevent cognitive decline.
In a new study published in Neuroepidemiology that analyzed results from the memory tests of more than 11,000 older Europeans, researchers found that education can combat cognitive decline—to a point.
People took recall tests at the start of the study and every two years for nearly a decade, and when the scientists compared those results with the diagnoses of dementia or cognitive impairment, they found that people with higher education seemed to have lower rates of dementia.