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Lifestyle Factors Affecting Memory
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Lifestyle Factors Affecting Memory

December 21, 2013

Research from the University of California, Los Angeles and published in PLOS ONE provided evidence that an unhealthy lifestyle is a factor affecting memory capabilities, both in the short-term and long-term. This information will be valuable for anyone who would like to limit their risk of dementia and future Alzheimer care.

UCLA teamed up with the Gallup poll to survey more than 18,000 people between the ages of 18 and 99 about their lifestyle choices, quality of health and memory function. The factors researchers inquired about were depression, physical inactivity, tobacco use, blood pressure, body weight and education level.


Up close of elderly man's face Overall, 20 percent of the participants reported experiencing memory problems, though the percentage per generation increased with age. Throughout all ages, there were more complaints about the ability to recall information associated with people who reported depression, high blood pressure, low physical activity and low education. Depression was the highest risk factor.

“We determined these risk factors may also be indicative of early memory complaints, which are often precursors to more significant memory decline later in life,” said Dr. Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

The authors believed complaints of memory problems in the younger participants were based on stress and a reduced attention span as a result of multitasking and technology use.

According to Dr. Small, previous studies have shown that education builds cognitive reserve. A recent article by Reuters referenced a study from the Journal of American Geriatric Society that showed how brain training programs can help older people maintain cognitive strength. According to the report, seniors who completed brain exercises observed bolstered reasoning skills and information processing speed for up to 10 years after the study.

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