-- Robert Preidt
SUNDAY, Nov. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Reading, writing and playing
cards and board games may be more than just fun pastimes, they may
also help aging brains stay healthy, researchers say.
These types of mental activities appear to help preserve
structural integrity in the brains of older people, according to
Konstantinos Arfanakis and colleagues from Rush University Medical
Center and Illinois Institute of Technology, in Chicago.
The researchers used MRI to scan the brains of 152 people,
average age 81, in order to assess the effects of mental activity
on the brain's white matter, which is composed of nerve fibers that
transmit information throughout the brain.
There was a significant association between frequent mental
activities and structural integrity in several areas of white
matter in the brain, the investigators found.
The study was scheduled for presentation Sunday at the annual
meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in
"Reading the newspaper, writing letters, visiting a library, attending a play or playing games, such as chess or checkers, are all simple activities that can contribute to a healthier brain," Arfanakis said in a society news release.
While this study found an association between mental activity in
seniors and structural integrity of the brain's white matter, it
didn't prove that one causes the other. The researchers want to
continue following the patients in this study in order to determine
if that is the case, Arfanakis said.
The data and conclusions of research presented at medical
meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a
The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers
healthy aging tips.
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