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Idiot box

A Chinese study in Neurology (March 2006, subscription only) studied 5000 people aged over 55 for 5 years. It found that those who developed cognitive impairment were less likely to play mahjong or to read. It showed that spending a lot of time watching television was associated with a 20% increase in risk of developing cognitive impairment.

A US study in the same journal found that crosswords, board games, reading, writing, group discussion and music prevented cognitive impairment among the elderly but watching television hastened it.

I am getting to the age where these findings become relevant. I have largely abandoned television and read quite a bit. I play a bit of chess and enjoy classical music. Will I escape ‘cognitive impairment’? I’d like to see studies which included the factors above, life-style and dietary choices.

1 comment to Idiot box

  • conrad

    I saw one of the top cognitive guys speaking about this once, and you’ll be pleased to know that all of those graphs showing cognitive decline in old age hide a large amount of individual variance, where some decent proportion of older people don’t experience much decline (50%? I can’t remember). This suggests the means don’t tell the whole story.

    People were bothering him after his talk about lifestyle correlates, which basically boiled down to “have a healthy lifestyle, and think a lot”, which appears to be what the Neurology article says.