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How online life affects the brain of older people

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

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New research has shown that using the internet in retirement years can improve your cognitive function. The results are published by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

Researchers from Lancaster University’s School of Management, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Trinity College Dublin studied the cognitive functions of more than 2,000 retirees from across Europe. They found that post-retirement internet use was associated with better cognitive skills. Experts conducted a study, and those of the elderly who led an active life on the Internet showed many times more points, passing memory tests.

Thus, the experiment showed that older Internet users were able to memorize an average of 1.22 words more than those who do not use the World Wide Web. The most obvious difference was for female volunteers. They named an average of 2.37 more words than women who did not use the Internet. At the same time, male users named, on average, 0.94 more words.

“Our results show that post-retirement internet use is associated with a marked decrease in the rate of cognitive decline,” says Dr. Vincent O’Sullivan, co-author of the study at the Lancaster University School of Management. retired, continued to use them for personal purposes after retirement and, therefore, had better cognitive skills. “

Cognitive decline amongst older people is associated with poor health and lower quality of life. Previous studies demonstrate that retirement is a particularly critical period for cognitive decline and highlight the importance of post-retirement behaviours. Using longitudinal data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, this study examines the effect of information technology usage on cognitive function, focusing specifically on internet usage. To address the endogenous relationship between cognitive function and IT usage, we adopt an instrumental variable approach that exploits variation in pre-retirement computer exposure due to the uneven computerisation of occupations across countries during the 1980s and 1990s.

As a reminder, previous research has shown that retirement is a critical period for cognitive function, which deteriorates with age, and may be a predictor of a number of key health indicators in older adults.

Source: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 190, October 2021, Pages 747-767.

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