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Elderly people urged to keep mentally active

17th February 2006

Learning new skills will keep older people mentally active, according to a new study, helping them to stay independent for longer.

Training reinvigorates key areas of the brain, offsetting some age-related decline and boosting performance, according to researchers at the University of Illinois.

A number of tests were carried out on men and women aged between 55 and 80 to assess the impact of mental activity and learning new skills on their brains.

Data compiled before and after the patients had been trained to perform certain tasks was used to calculate any beneficial impact.

The figures showed that activation in the brain regions, which are tied to cognitive decline with aging increased significantly among the older adults who received the training.

Supporting the theory, the study also revealed that participants who did not receive training experienced a dip in activity levels.

Professor Kramer, a researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, said that the results suggested a strong relationship between brain activation and performance.