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Digital Literacy Reduces Cognitive Decline in Older Adults, Experts Find

For Immediate Release
August 13, 2014

Contact: Todd Kluss
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Researchers have found a link between digital literacy and a reduction in cognitive decline, according to a study published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.

Led by Andre Junqueira Xavier, PhD, at the Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina in Brazil, this is the first major study to show that digital literacy — the ability to engage, plan, and execute digital actions such as web browsing and exchanging e-mails — can improve memory.

Drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, the study followed 6,442 participants in the UK between the ages of 50 and 89 for 8 years. The data measures delayed recall from a 10-word-list learning task across 5 separate measurement points. Higher wealth, education and digital literacy improved delayed recall, while people with functional impairment, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depressive symptoms or no digital literacy showed decline.
 
The researchers’ findings suggest that “digital literacy increases brain and cognitive reserve or leads to the employment of more efficient cognitive networks to delay cognitive decline.” The authors write, “countries where policy interventions regarding improvement in DL are implemented may expect lower incidence rates for dementia over the coming decades.”

The paper, “English Longitidunal Study of Ageing (ELSA): Can Internet/E-mail Use Reduce Cognitive Decline?” can be accessed at https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/69/9/1117/575499/English-Longitudinal-Study-of-Aging-Can-Internet-E.

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The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences is a peer-reviewed publication of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.

 

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