NEW YORK: A friend or a neighbour may help you stay sharp just as much as a daily crossword — you only need to talk to him for ten minutes every day.
Researchers in the United States have carried out a study and found that spending ten minutes talking to another person helps improve the memory, the ‘ScienceDaily’ reported here on Friday.
“In our study, socialising was just as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance,”lead researcher Oscar Ybarra at the University of Michigan was quoted as saying.
In fact, the researchers came to the conclusion after conducting a test on 76 college students, aged 18 to 21.
After controlling for a wide range of demographic variables, including age, education, race/ethnicity, gender, marital status and income, as well as for physical health and depression, the researchers looked at the connection between frequency of social contact and level of mental function on the mini-mental exam.
Each student was assigned to one of three groups. Those in the social interaction group engaged in a discussion of a social issue for 10 minutes before taking the tests.
Those in the intellectual activities group completed three tasks before taking the tests. These tasks included a reading comprehension exercise and a crossword puzzle.
Those in a control group watched a 10-minute clip of ‘Seinfeld’. Then all participants completed two different tests of intellectual performance that measured their mental processing speed and working memory.
Ybarra said, “We found that short-term social interaction lasting for just 10 minutes boosted participants’ intellectual performance as much as engaging in so-called ‘intellectual’ activities for the same amount of time.
The higher the level of participants’ social interaction, researchers found, the better their cognitive functioning. This relationship was reliable for all age groups, from the youngest through the oldest.
“To our knowledge, this experiment represents the only causal evidence showing that social interaction directly affects memory and mental performance in a positive way.”
The findings also suggest that social isolation may have a negative effect on intellectual abilities as well as emotional well-being. And for a society characterized by increasing levels of social isolation the effects could be far-reaching.
Source: The Times Of India