Reading & Writing May Help Preserve Memory in Older Age

Would you ever want to forget your wedding day, the birth of your own child, or the birth of your grandchild?

No right! Then reading and writing can help you prevent the lose of the most amazing memories.

“A study published on July 3 in Neurology revealed that reading, writing and doing other mentally-stimulating activities at every age helped stave off memory problem.”

Researchers gave 294 older people memory and thinking tests they performed over a period of six years. The researchers asked the elder people if they read books, wrote or did any other mentally stimulating activities when they were children, adolescence, middle age and/or current age.

“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age.”

Once the subjects died, their brains were used for research and they looked for lesions, brain plaque, and tangles, which are all signs of dementia. Dementia is the “loss of brain function that affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior.”

Researchers from both the US and the UK are looking for reasoning behind this phenomenon because the most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. The studies were showing that the more reading, writing and brain stimulating activities people did, the slower their memory decline.

“…those that kept themselves mentally busy had a 15 percent slower rate of mental and thinking decline compared to those that did not.”

Researchers are not sure why, or how exactly this is working, but they are continuing their studies to find out.


My Senior English Seminar class then had a discussion on the topic and the study itself.

One of the major questions that was asked was,

“If you’re being forced to read, does it still have that same positive effect of improving memory?” -Tori Murry

The overall reaction to this question was that reading, writing even when it is forced will in the end help one’s memory because it will still workout the parts of the brain where the dementia will set in. This all has to do with specific functions of the brain commonly explained  in psychology.

Another topic that came up within the conversation was if only reading and writing could help improve brain function to avoid dementia.

“Do you think reading and writing are the only activities? Do you think games could improve memory, like memory games?” -Maeson Nolan

The class discussed this certain question for close to twenty minutes. Some people agreed, while some people disagreed. I personally think that playing memory games and other games that really get the brain working, would help improve the overall function of the brain when people get older. I think it’s important to consistently engage the brain in activities like memory games, reading and writing.

“My grandma was an avid reader throughout her lifetime, but she died early due to Alzheimer’s. Does reading and writing really make a difference?”-Skylar Giarusso

Like Skylar, some people wondered if this really made a difference in the brain. I explained to them that the study has shown a fifteen percent increase in brain function in older years jump to thirty-eight percent. Since the researchers cannot confirm that this is the only thing that is improving the brain function people in the class were still optimistic about it, which is perfectly understandable since there has not been a lot of data received on this yet.

CASTILLO, MICHELLE. “Reading, Writing May Help Preserve Memory in Older Age.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 4 July 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.



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