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Memory beginning to fail you? Well get on Facebook to stay sharp says new study


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

February 23, 2013 | 2 min read

Researchers have claimed that using Facebook could keep pensioners sharp and help prevent mental decline.

The study, involving 14 men and women aged 68 to 91 who had never or rarely used Facebook, found that over-65s who used the website to post daily updates performed 25 per cent better in memory tests.

The participants were asked to become Facebook "friends" with one another and post updates at least once a day for eight weeks.

Meanwhile, during the same time-frame, the group who did not use the social networking site saw no improvement in their memory.

The researchers from the University of Arizona said that the website keeps the brain active by providing a constant stream of information from friends which must be processed, while older information has to be either stored or erased, they explained.

They went on to add that Facebook could be just one way of helping older people stay socially active and engaged, which plays an important role preserving mental abilities in later life.

Janelle Wohltmann, a graduate student who led the study, presented her findings at the International Neuropsychological Society Annual Meeting. She said: "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.

"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."

However, the over 100s might need to wait until a technical flaw is fixed to allow them to enter their correct birthday. A group of silver surfers complained to Zuckerberg this week after the site automatically made them younger to fit in with its earliest birth year of 1910.


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