Lifestyle Effects on Memory & Cognition

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  • A large study adds to evidence that caffeine helps older women fight cognitive impairment and dementia.
  • This is supported by two animal studies showing precisely how caffeine is valuable for keeping the brain healthy.

Data from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study, involving 6,467 postmenopausal women (65+) who reported some level of caffeine consumption, has found that those who consumed above average amounts of coffee had a lower risk of developing dementia.

  • A study of younger adults adds to evidence that higher BMI is associated with poorer cognition, and points to a specific impairment in memory integration.

A small study involving 50 younger adults (18-35; average age 24) has found that those with a higher BMI performed significantly worse on a computerised memory test called the “Treasure Hunt Task”.

  • A small study adds to evidence that walking improves memory in older adults, and indicates that this is particularly helpful for memory tasks the seniors find challenging.

A small study that fitted 29 young adults (18-31) and 31 older adults (55-82) with a device that recorded steps taken and the vigor and speed with which they were made, has found that those older adults with a higher step rate performed better on memory tasks than those who were more sedentary.

  • B vitamins can help many older adults with mild cognitive impairment, but only if they have good levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

A study involving 266 people with mild cognitive impairment (aged 70+) has found that B vitamins are more effective in slowing cognitive decline when people have higher omega 3 levels.

  • A small study shows that it's not only daily biological rhythms that affect brain activity, but longer seasonal ones also.

A sleep study involving 28 participants had them follow a controlled sleep/wake schedule for three weeks before staying in a sleep laboratory for 4.5 days, during which time they experienced a cycle of sleep deprivation and recovery in the absence of seasonal cues such as natural light, time inf

  • The Mediterranean diet is the diet most associated with cognitive and health benefits in older adults.
  • A new study has found larger brain volumes among those following this sort of diet, equivalent to that of brains five years younger.
  • Much of this was associated with two components of the diet in particular: eating fish regularly, and eating less meat.

Another study adds to the growing evidence that a Mediterranean diet is good for the aging brain.

  • A correlation has been found between physical activity in healthy older adults and more variable resting-state brain activity.
  • More variable resting-state activity in older adults has previously been linked to better cognition.
  • No such correlation was found between cardiorespiratory fitness and resting-state brain activity.
  • The finding supports previous evidence linking higher levels of physical activity in old age with better cognition and brain health.

A study involving 100 healthy older adults (aged 60-80) has found that those with higher levels of physical activity showed more variable spontaneous brain activity in certain brain regions (including the

  • A large study of older adults with age-related macular degeneration found no cognitive benefit from taking omega-3 supplements, or supplements of lutein and zeaxanthin.

A large, five-year study challenges the idea that omega-3 fatty acids can slow age-related cognitive decline.

  • A large study of older adults (70+) found no cognitive benefit from a regular exercise program, compared to another social & mental intervention.
  • However, a subset of participants (those over 80, and those with poor physical function at the beginning of the study) did show improvement in executive function.
  • Participants in both programs showed no cognitive decline over the two-year period, suggesting both interventions were helpful.

A large, two-year study challenges the evidence that regular exercise helps prevent age-related cognitive decline.

  • Waste products accumulate as the brain functions.
  • The process of clearing this waste is most effective during sleep.
  • Accumulation of waste products such as amyloid-beta and tau proteins are involved in Alzheimer's.
  • Rat study shows sleeping on your side is best for removing waste from the brain.

This sounds like pseudoscience, but it appears in Journal of Neuroscience, so … Weirdly, a rat study has found that sleeping on the side (the most common posture for humans and other animals) is the best position for efficiently removing waste from the brain.

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