Posted 2 Nov 2013

in News

PoetryZoo may be good for your health!

We might always have suspected it, but new research suggests that writing and reading – our fave things at PoetryZoo! – are vital for good brain health in old age. All the more reason to really keep going with your poetry!

A study published in ‘Neurology’, the American Academy of Neurology’s journal, finds that this kind of brain activity – practised throughout life – has an important impact in later life. Lead author and neuropsychologist at Rush University Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, Robert S. Wilson PhD, found that there were important effects on memory preservation. “Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in these activities is important across a person’s lifetime, from infancy through old age,” he says.

During the research, almost 300 people were tested every year for memory and thinking functions for six years before their deaths – at an average age of 89. They also provided detailed information about their reading, writing and other brain-stimulating activities during childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age and their current old age.

After they had passed away, the brains of the research participants were examined for physical evidence of dementia – such as lesions, brain plaques and ‘tangles’. Wilson’s study found that people who participated in such mentally stimulating activities had a slower rate of decline in memory compared to those who did not; and the figures appear very significant. Mental activity throughout life accounted for nearly 15 % of the difference in decline. The rate of decline was reduced by 32% in people with frequent activity in late life, compared to average; and the rate of decline of those with infrequent activity was 48 % faster than those with average.

“Based on this, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents,” adds Wilson.

Prashanthi Vemuri PhD, of the Mayo Clinic, comments on the research in Neurology: “This finding potentially addresses a question that all of us ask from time to time – can we do anything to slow down late-life cognitive decline? The results suggest yes – read more books, write more, and do activities that keep your brain busy irrespective of your age”. Sounds like advice PoetryZoo members are already taking!


Rush University Medical Center

Robert S. Wilson PhD

Neurology Journal

American Academy of Neurology

The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Original photo by biologycorner

by The PoetryZoo Keeper