Sunday, December 18, 2016

Being part of a community group could protect you from cognitive decline

I wonder if Facebook counts :D

Public Release: 1-Dec-2016
Being part of a community group could protect you from cognitive decline
BioMed Central

Social engagement through civic group activities, such as being a member of a political party, an environmental group, neighborhood watch, a voluntary service group or other community based groups, is associated with better cognitive function at age 50, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Psychology which included 9,119 men and women from England, Scotland and Wales.

Researchers at the University of Southampton found that a person's cognitive ability at age 11; their participation in civic activities at ages 33 and 50; frequent physical activity; higher educational qualification and female gender were all associated with better cognitive function at age 50. Having low socio-economic status as a child and reporting worse mental well-being in adulthood were both associated with worse cognitive function at age 50.

Professor Ann Bowling, lead author of the study said: "While the associations between adult social engagement and cognitive function at age 50 we found were moderate, they persisted after we adjusted for covariates, such as health, socio-economic status and gender. The implication is that if people continue to engage socially throughout life, maintaining related behaviours that require cognitive skills such as memory, attention and control, there may be some protection from cognitive decline. Public health policy interventions aimed at promoting cognitive health could include encouraging civic engagement and providing people with opportunities for this."


The researchers found that almost a third of the sample population's cognitive ability deteriorated between ages eleven and 50, while remaining unchanged in less than half of participants (44%). A quarter of participants showed improved cognitive ability at age 50. Those who reported that they participated in civic groups at age 33 and 50 scored higher in cognitive tests. Also, participation in each additional civic group was found to further increase scores on cognitive tests.


However, observational studies like this one cannot show cause and effect, but can describe possible links.

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