Mentally Stimulating Activities May Lower Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Reading and playing games may help reduce MCI risk in non-APOE-ε4 carriers.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Mentally stimulating activities, such as reading and computer use, may help decrease the risk of incident mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The study results were presented at the 68th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

Researchers led by Janina Krell-Roesch, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, conducted a prospective cohort study of 1929 cognitively normal adults aged ≥70 years from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Using a questionnaire, participants provided information about engaging in mentally stimulating activities 1 year prior to baseline evaluation. Participants were followed until they were diagnosed with incident MCI by an expert consensus panel.

Over a median follow-up of 4 years, researchers observed that playing games (hazard ratio [HR], 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65-0.95), reading magazines (HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.54-0.82), engaging in craft activities (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.57-0.90), computer use (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.57-0.85), and social activities (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63-0.94) were associated with a decreased risk of incident MCI. After accounting for APOE-ε4 status, the findings for noncarriers remained the same, while only computer use (HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.46-0.92) and social activities (HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.43-0.89) appeared to decrease the risk of MCI in carriers of the genetic mutation.

While the data do not indicate a causal effect, they do suggest that continued engagement in mentally stimulating activities in late life may promote overall brain health.

Click here for more coverage from the 68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, April 15-21, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Krell-Roesch J, Roberts R, Pink A, et al. Mentally stimulating activities in late-life and the risk of incident mild cognitive impairment: a prospective cohort study.  Presented at: The 68th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology; April 15-21, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia. Abstract S35.007.