Earlier this year, we discussed how socialization can help prevent cognitive decline. Now, additional research from Penn State’s Center for Healthy Aging has further solidified this correlation with evidence that social interactions can immediately impact cognitive health.
Study leader Ruixue Zhaoyang says “Our study is one of the first to show that whether you have social interactions on one day can immediately affect your cognitive performance that same day and also on the following days.”
The study analyzed data from 312 older adults over 16 days. Participants reported social interaction, including interactions via text or phone, as well as the quality of interaction and who it was with. This reporting was accompanied by three daily cognitive check-ins to measure speed and attention, spatial working memory, and intra-item feature memory binding.
Results showed that adults who had daily interactions also scored higher on the daily cognitive assessments and that an interaction that specifically addressed a type of connection one was lacking was most impactful. For example, if someone reported missing their family, they reaped even higher cognitive benefits if they had a phone call with a relative that day.
This research will help inform therapies for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, but for the everyday reader, this study is further evidence that you should reach out to a loved one today, even if just for a brief phone call.
Source study: PLOS ONE – Daily social interactions related to daily performance on mobile cognitive tests among older adults
This story is part of our ‘Best of 2021’ series highlighting our top solutions from the year. Today we’re featuring lifestyle solutions.