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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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September 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 6)

A big circle of friends keeps your brain young
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

A big circle of friends keeps your brain young image

We may dream of moving to a quiet village when we retire—but it could be the worst thing we do for our mental health and wellbeing. People who stay connected to a larger social group slow the process of brain ageing, a new study has discovered.

They have better memories and healthier brains overall than others who live a more isolated life, say researchers from Ohio State University.

Right now, their research has been restricted to studies of mice, some of whom were kept in larger groups and others lived in pairs and separate from the group. Nonetheless, the results were compelling: those kept apart from the group developed poorer memories and were unable to locate a toy that had been moved. A similar result was seen in another test, where the mice had to remember an escape route.

The latest findings add to the growing body of evidence that has found that a strong social circle and cognitive health go together; the key could be in the hippocampus region of the brain, which is connected to memory, as that responds to stimulus from social group activity and exercise.

But although it's starting to look pretty conclusive that there's a link between social activity and brain ageing, the researchers say there's still the possibility that people who have declining memories tend to withdraw from life.


(Source: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2018; doi: 10; doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2018.00142)

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