by Steven Reinberg
Losing memory as you age is a sign of mild cognitive impairment, which can be a gateway to dementia or Alzheimer's disease. But using your brain can help keep it sharp, and it's never too late to start reaping the benefits, researchers say. Why keeping mentally active has this effect isn't known, but it might be that the brain responds positively to increased use, said senior researcher Dr. Yonas Geda, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. "It's like watering a flower," he said. It's also possible that people who engage in mental activities also have other good behaviors, such as exercising and eating a healthy diet, which benefit brain health, Geda said. Study lead author Janina Krell-Roesch, a research fellow at the Mayo Clinic, cautioned that this study can't prove that mental activity keeps mild cognitive impairment at bay. "Our study was an observational study, so we can only say that there is an association between mental activities and the risk of mild cognitive impairment," she explained.
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