Brain Health

Digital Literacy Reduces Cognitive Decline

Congratulations, ThirdAge fan! The fact that you are at your computer reading this means that you are among the digital literati – and that accomplishment promises to lower your risk of cognitive decline as you age.

Researchers led by Andre Junqueira Xavier at the Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina in Brazil have found that the ability to engage, plan, and execute digital actions such as web browsing and exchanging emails can improve memory. The results were published in July 8th 2014 in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Medical Sciences.

A release from the publisher explains that used information from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a study that followed 6,442 participants in the UK between the ages of 50 and 89 for 8 years. The data measures delayed recall from a 10-word-list learning task across five separate measurement points. Higher wealth, education and digital literacy improved delayed recall, while people with functional impairment, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depressive symptoms or no digital literacy showed decline. The researchers’ findings suggest that “digital literacy increases brain and cognitive reserve or leads to the employment of more efficient cognitive networks to delay cognitive decline.”

The authors wrote that “countries where policy interventions regarding improvement in DL are implemented may expect lower incidence rates for dementia over the coming decades.”

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