September 15, 2006
Switching off the television set to do a crossword puzzle or read a novel and eating heart-healthy foods like fish may be key to keeping the memory sharp into old age, a recent survey from Australia suggests. These findings come from an Internet poll of nearly 30,000 people conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as part of Australia's National Science Week.
The survey also found that heavy drinkers (those who drank more than two drinks a day) found it more difficult to recall names than those who moderated their alcohol intake. People who regularly did crossword puzzles were better at remembering shopping lists and recalling names, while those who ate fish at least once a week improved their ability to remember items on a list.
TV viewing, however, had the biggest impact on overall brainpower. Men and women who reported watching less than an hour a day performed better in numerous memory tasks, including remembering items on a shopping list, recalling names and faces and people's occupations, and long-term memory skills. Men and women performed equally well on all the skills that were tested. "Turn off the box, or at least don't view too much of it," the survey results concluded.
The results are consistent with scientific studies that suggest that keeping the mind active and eating a heart-healthy diet are good for the brain and may be key to preventing Alzheimer's disease. [See the articles, "A Fish-Rich Diet May Help Keep the Mind Sharp," and "Use It Or Lose It to Reduce Your Alzheimer's Risk."] However, these survey results were not tested for scientific accuracy.
Many more factors may influence your risk for memory loss and Alzheimer's disease, including lack of activity, the genes you inherit, and being overweight. To learn more about keeping your brain young and the prevention of Alzheimer's, visit www.ALZinfo.org.
The National Memory Test, ABC Science Online and the Department of Education, Science, and Training.