New research suggests positive thinking can promote memory recovery

We know positive thinking promotes longevity, in a general sense. But now add some exciting specifics: people who think positively about aging are more likely to recover memory, than people who think negatively.

That’s according to study from the Yale School of Public Health, reported here. You can ready the full study here.

Using data from the National Health and Retirement study, researchers tried to find out if positive aging attitudes and beliefs could contribute to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) recovery.  They looked at results from 1,716 participants aged 65 and older.

Positive and negative age beliefs were based on agreement/disagreement with such statements as “The older I get, the more useless I feel.” 

Results: People in the positive age-belief group who started with normal cognition “were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment over the next 12 years than those in the negative age-belief group, regardless of their baseline age and physical health.”

And for those who did experience MCI, the research showed the positive group were much more likely to recover: “Participants with MCI at baselines were significantly more likely to experience cognitive recovery if they had positive age beliefs at baseline.” In fact, they had 30.2% greater likelihood of recovery than the negative group. They also had a faster transition from MCI back to normal cognition.

The money quote:

“The findings of this…study suggest the importance of considering the role of culture, expressed her through age beliefs, in MCI development and reversal… Considering that positive age beliefs can be strengthened, our findings suggest that age-belief interventions at individual and societal levels could increased the number of people who experience cognitive recovery.”

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