Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How socialising can boost your brain power

Two studies carried out by researchers from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research have shown how social interaction can boost people's brain power. The first study looked at 3,610 people between the ages of 24 and 96. Their mental functioning was assessed and their level of social interaction was measured by asking them how often they phoned friends, neighbours and relatives and how often they got together. After controlling for variables such as age, education, race/ethnicity, gender, marital status and income, as well as physical health and depression the researchers found that the higher the level of the participants' social interaction the better their cognitive functioning. In the second experiment the researchers studied 7 college students between the ages of 17 and 21 assigning them to three groups. One group had a ten minute discussion of a social issue, another goup did mental activities such as a crossword puzzle and a third, control, goup watched ten minutes of 'Seinfeld'. Then all the participants took two different tests of intellectual performance aimed at measuring their mental processing speed and working memory. The researchers found that the performance of the students in the 'social' goup was boosted - compared to the control group - by as much as the group doing the mental activities. You can find out more about this research by visiting

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