Older adults receive cognitive increase from Facebook
The benefits of spending time on Facebook are many and range from reduced stress levels, increased relaxation, and decreased heart rates. But an even greater result came from a recent study suggesting Facebook sharpens the mental abilities of adults over 65.
Janelle Wohltmann, a graduate student from the University of Arizona, tested to see if teaching Facebook to older adults helped increase their cognitive performance. According to the Huffington Post, her preliminary findings, which she shared this month at the International Neuropsychological Society Annual Meeting in Hawaii, reveal that older adults, after learning to use Facebook, performed about 25 percent better on memory tasks.
“The idea evolved from two bodies of research," Wohltmann said in a press release. "One, there is evidence to suggest that staying more cognitively engaged -– learning new skills, not just becoming a couch potato when you retire but staying active -– leads to better cognitive performing. It's kind of this 'use it or lose it' hypothesis.
"There's also a large body of literature showing that people who are more socially engaged, are less lonely, have more social support and are more socially integrated are also doing better cognitively in older age," she said.
Before the subjects learned new technologies, the participants, ranging in age from 68-91, completed a series of tests and questionnaires that measured their “social variables,” including their levels of loneliness, social support and cognitive abilities. At the end of the study, the tests were performed again, and the Facebook users performed about 25 percent better.
Although the study suggests Facebook may sharpen the abilities of older adults, Wohltmann warns it may not be right for everyone.
"One of the take-home messages could be that learning how to use Facebook is a way to build what we call cognitive reserve, to help protect against and stave off cognitive decline due to normal age-related changes in brain function. But there certainly are other ways to do this as well," she said.
For the full story, go to HuffingtonPost.com.