We don’t always realize the importance of positive social interactions for brain health.
In a new study, published Aug. 16 in the JAMA Network Open, researchers are highlighting the benefits of having someone close to you who you can count on to talk and confide. This presence in the entourage would be associated with a greater cognitive resilience, that is to say a greater capacity of the brain to function better than what one would expect in view of its age.
“We view cognitive resilience as a buffer against the effects of aging brain and disease,” commented Dr. Joel Salinas, professor of neurology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and first author of the study, in a commentary. communicated. “This study adds to the growing evidence that people can take steps, for themselves or for those they care about, to increase the chances of slowing cognitive aging or preventing the development of symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease, which is most important given that we still do not have a cure for the disease, ”he added.
Finding a listening ear, a good habit to take
Thus, according to the study, for each unit of decline in brain volume, individuals in their forties or fifties who did not have an attentive ear around them had a cognitive age of four years older. older than those with this type of listening around them.
“These four years can be incredibly precious. Too often we think about how to protect our brain health when we are much older, having already wasted a lot of time decades ago. to develop and maintain healthy habits for the brain ”, detailed Dr. Salinas. “But today, right now, you can ask yourself if you really have someone available to listen to you in a positive way, and ask the same of your loved ones. Taking this simple action sets the process in motion so that you ultimately have a better chance of long-term brain health and the best quality of life you can have, ”he continued.
Dr Salinas even recommends that physicians consider asking this question when asking their patients about their social status, especially since loneliness is one of the many symptoms of depression.
Measuring cognitive resilience
The researchers here conducted their study on 2,171 participants of an average age of 63. Participants’ cognitive resilience was measured as the relative effect of total brain volume on cognition, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neuropsychological assessments.
The study showed that individuals with this type of social support and listening available had higher cognitive function compared to their total brain volume. VSThis form of support was thus strongly associated with greater cognitive resilience than in individuals without a listening ear to talk to.