Older men who use the Internet have a clear mind

Scientists in Switzerland have found that Internet use in old age is associated with slower cognitive decline. They came to this conclusion due to experiment involving almost 900 people and asked participants to undergo attention tests twice: at the beginning and six years later. In the volunteers who used the Internet more often than others, cognitive decline was slower, but the results were only for men and not for women. The scientific article is published in Scientific Reports.

Cognitive decline is a natural process that accompanies aging and is associated with reduced memory performance, attention, mental flexibility, etc. The rate of cognitive decline can be a symptom of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer's). And this process can be both slowed down and worsened - in particular, through lifestyle.

Specialists from Switzerland have decided to find out whether Internet use among older people can help to maintain cognitive reserves. They conducted a study involving 3,080 volunteers aged 65 to 96, including both active users and those who had not accessed the Internet at all. Their observation lasted six years. Only 897 people survived to the second wave of the study (average age - 74.3 years), so the analysis was conducted on their data.

All participants were interviewed about how often they use the Internet (on a scale of 0 to 4, where 0 - "never use" and 4 - "use every day for three hours or more"). Also, at the beginning and end of the survey, they passed the Attention Test, known as the Trail Making Test, where they had to connect 25 points to each other in ascending order, and some other sophisticated cognitive tests. 

The results showed that the more frequently participants used the Internet, the slower was the rate of their cognitive decline identified by the tests. It is noteworthy that such dependence was observed in men, but not in women.

The authors explain that it cannot be argued that frequent use of the Internet directly reduces the cognitive decline in men and retains the clarity of mind in old age. Perhaps this is due to what kind of online activity they lead - it remains to be seen.

June 9, 2020, 11:41 a.m.

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