Mind and Body

Leaning a new skill improves memory in seniors, study shows

While many senior citizens engage in crosswords or Sudoku puzzles to keep their minds sharp, a new study indicates that people who attempt to learn a new task might actually see greater cognitive benefits, Nature World News reported.

In a study from the University of Texas at Dallas, researchers studied 220 adults between the ages of 60 and 90. Participants were divided into three groups, and each subset was given a different type of activity to engage in for 15 hours each week over a three-month period of time.

Participants in the first group learned a new skill like photography or quilting; seniors in the second group took part in a familiar activity like listening to music; members of the third group were taken on social activities like field trips.

Overall, the group of seniors learning a new skill showed improvements in memory compared to the seniors in the other two groups.

"It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something; it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially," psychological scientist and lead researcher Denise Park, of the University of Texas at Dallas, said. "When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone."

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