Social work can reverse declining brain function

Social work can reverse declining brain function

Volunteering to tutor children can help older adults delay or reverse declining brain function, according to a new study.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg researchers found that seniors participating in a youth mentoring programme made gains in key brain regions that support cognitive abilities.

About 78 million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964. With retirement age individuals the fastest-growing sector of the US population, there is great interest in preserving their cognitive and physical abilities, especially given the societal cost of the alternative.

The study is the first to examine the effect of Experience Corps, a national volunteer service programme that trains seniors to help children in urban public schools with reading and academic success in other areas, says a Bloomberg release.

”We found that participating in Experience Corps resulted in improvements in cognitive functioning, associated with significant changes in brain activation patterns,” said lead investigator Michelle C. Carlson, associate professor in the Bloomberg Schools.

More news from Health and Fitness