Study shows how working may help protect from cognitive decline

Study shows how working may help protect from cognitive decline

By Kiersten Willis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren for CNT #Health

Of all the ways people can prevent cognitive decline, their work could be one of them.

Results of a study from Italian researchers show just how making a living can help keep the brain healthy.

“We have demonstrated the role of working activity on cognitive performance,” said professor Raffaella Rumiati, a cognitive neuroscientist at an Italian research institution in a press release.

“Many studies have been focused on the factors influencing our brain aging and differences in cognitive decline have been often observed in association with education or other related to quality of life. From our analysis, it emerges that the type of work activity also contributes to the differences in normal and pathological cognitive aging”.

Rumiati is coauthor of a paper on protective factors of cognitive decline. It was published last month in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Neurology.

Scientists conducted research that analyzed age and sex, the presence of at least two diseases in participants, education and occupation. It quantified the relative contribution of these factors to the brain’s resistance to age- or illness-related damage. Participants were evaluated with a series of neuropsychological tests. They were then split into profiles based on the results: subjects at risk of cognitive decline, subjects with mild decline and subjects with severe decline.

Tests were repeated twice several years apart. Patients were classified as “resistant” or “declining” depending on whether they maintained or worsened their profile based on their initial performance.

Findings showed that, along with age, education and occupation were the best predictors of performance. The effects of age and education had previously been studied.

“We confirmed that education protects people from the risk of cognitive decline and that these individuals had held more complex occupations than the individuals of the other two groups, the subjects with mild and advanced cognitive decline,” University of Padua professor Sara Mondini of the University of Padua said.

The study demonstrated how the “resistant” group had higher levels of education on average. They also had more complex jobs than the “declining” group.

“This study highlights the role of working activity in protecting from cognitive decline across all fragile elderly groups and even more so the individuals who are at very high risk of decline,” the paper’s conclusion said.

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By Troy Warren

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