It’s Good Housekeeping’s 17th anniversary, and mommies, it’s your month, too! Enjoy meaty reads on everything relevant to you—from deliciously simple cake recipes to stories of compassion during Pope Francis’s visit.

Grab a copy now!

Good Housekeeping
Jennifer Chan, Assistant Managing Editor
December 01, 2012

Older Adults Who Do Mental Exercises May Have Better Brain Health, Says Study

Keep age-related cognitive decline at bay by keeping your mind busy. By Jennifer Chan

Previous studies have shown that the mind benefits from cognitive exercise, but a new study presented at the recent annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and reported in reveals that late-life cognitive activity such as reading, writing, and playing games may also have an effect on the brain's white matter, which is the area of the brain that houses the body's information transmitters. 

Using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, researchers focused on diffusion anisotropy (the way water molecules move through the brain). They later found out that water molecules have an easier time moving through the brain when the water moves in a parallel direction with the brain's axons. 

"In healthy white matter tissue, water can't move as much in directions perpendicular to the nerve fibers," explains Konstantinos Arfanakis, Ph.D., from Rush University Medical Center and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. "But if, for example, you have lower neuronal density or less myelin, then the water has more freedom to move perpendicular to the fibers, so you would have reduced diffusion anisotropy. Lower diffusion anisotropy values are consistent with aging."

The researchers discovered that senior citizens who engaged in more mental activities like reading newspapers and magazines or playing checkers and board games have higher diffusion anisotropy values in the brain. This indicates that their brains are actually similar to the brains of younger individuals.

In the long run, this research may have very positive implications for those who want to keep dementia and other age-related mental problems at bay. For now, however, more research is needed. Still, it can't hurt for you to start exercising your brain now.

(Photo by Alfonso Jimenez via Flickr Creative Commons


Name :
Email :
Website :
Comment :
Security Image
NOTE: is a CLEAN ZONE. Editors reserve the right to delete obscene comments.
Filter comments by:
  • Be the first one to comment...
Filter comments by:
follow us
Jennifer Chan
Assistant Managing Editor
Jennifer Chan was a contributing writer for Female Network for two years before formally joining the team as a staff writer in July 2012... Read more...
LATEST Articles
MOST READ Articles
Why You Need to Drink More Water
Always keep a bottle of water handy.  Nov 25, 2015 
7 Ways Your Bad Posture Is Ruining Your Day
Like giving you a bad rep and outlook.  Nov 25, 2015 
13 Things Every Body-Conscious Girl Must Know
You'll never have full control of your body.  Nov 21, 2015 
12 Things You Need to Ask Yourself Today to Make Your Life Better
Sometimes, you just gotta take a moment to assess yourself and your life.  Nov 20, 2015