Intellectual Jobs May Be Better for the Brain

HealthDay News — Intellectually challenging jobs may help preserve cognitive skills and memory as workers age, according to a study published in Neurology.

Alan Gow, PhD, of Heriot-Watt University and the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed various levels of job complexity using the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

Jobs scoring highly for the complexity of work with people, for example, are lawyer, social worker, surgeon, and probation officer. Jobs scoring lower for complexity of work with people are factory worker, bookbinder, painter, and carpet layer.

The researchers compared IQ scores obtained around age 11 years from 1,066 Scottish people with their memory and reasoning scores around age 70 years. Those who had mentally stimulating jobs appeared to retain sharper thinking even years after retirement, the scientists found.

“We see that those in more complex jobs generally do better on a range of cognitive ability measures,” Gow told HealthDay.


  1. Smart EL et al. Neurology. 2014; doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000001075.