People's memory often declines as they get older. Strategies to combat this decline include the use of mnemonics (special methods for helping people to remember things) and 'maintenance' activities such as crosswords and Sudoku. A study of 18 people, aged between 62 and 84 in Texas enrolled them on an eight-week writing workshop aimed at teaching them how to write autobiographically. At the end of the eight-week study the participants' scores for verbal memory and attention showed a significant improvement. However, the complexity of the participants' writing, which the researchers had expected to increase as their writing skills improved, actually decreased over the course of the study leading the researchers to hypothesize that as people's writing skills improved they were able to express themselves in simpler, less tortuous sentences.
de Medeiros, Kate ... [et al] - The impact of autobiographic writing on memory performance in older adults : a preliminary investigation The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry March 2007, 15(3), 257-261