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Sex can boost brain power in older adults

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Staying busy in your bedroom even after age 50 could be good for your brain as researchers have found that older adults who have sex more frequently do better in brain function tests.

The researchers found that those who engaged in more regular sexual activity scored higher on tests that measured their verbal fluency and their ability to visually perceive objects.

“People don’t like to think that older people have sex – but we need to challenge this conception at a societal level and look at what impact sexual activity can have on those aged 50 and over, beyond the known effects on sexual health and general well being,” said lead researcher Hayley Wright from Coventry University in England.

The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences, involved 73 people aged between 50 and 83.

Participants filled in a questionnaire on how often, on average, they had engaged in sexual activity over the past 12 months – whether that was never, monthly or weekly – as well as answering questions about their general health and lifestyle.

They also took part in a standardised test, which is typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults.

This included verbal fluency tests in which participants had 60 seconds to name as many animals as possible, and then to say as many words beginning with F as they could — tests which reflect higher cognitive abilities.

They also took part in tests to determine their visuospatial ability which included copying a complex design and drawing a clock face from memory.

It was these two sets of tests where participants who engaged in weekly sexual activity scored the most highly, with the verbal fluency tests showing the strongest effect.

The researchers from the universities of Coventry and Oxford said further research could look at how biological elements, such as dopamine and oxytocin, could influence the relationship between sexual activity and brain function to give a fuller explanation of their findings.

“We can only speculate whether this is driven by social or physical elements – but an area we would like to research further is the biological mechanisms that may influence this,” Wright said.

“Every time we do another piece of research we are getting a little bit closer to understanding why this association exists at all, what the underlying mechanisms are, and whether there is a ’cause and effect’ relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function in older people,” Wright added.(IANS)

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Social media use may affect teenagers’ real life relationship

The study showed that teenagers from families with a household income of less than $35,000 per year spent three more hours a day on screen media watching TV and online videos than teenagers in families with an annual income of more than $100,000

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The increased use of social media has led to many differences among teenagers.
The increased use of social media has led to many differences among teenagers. Wikimedia Commons
Even as effects of social media use on mental well-being is hotly debated, a new study says that spending too much time online can create problems in real life relationships with teenagers and vice versa.
Results of a survey conducted by Professor Candice Odgers of the University of California, Irvine and her colleagues showed teenagers from low-income families reported more physical fights, face-to-face arguments and trouble at school that spilt over from social media.
On the other hand, the researchers found that adolescents from economically disadvantaged households are also more likely to be bullied and victimised in cyberspace.
“The majority of young people appear to be doing well in the digital age, and many are thriving with the new opportunities that electronic media provides. But those who are already struggling offline need our help online too,” Odgers said.
In a commentary published in the journal Nature, Odgers argued that while smartphones should not be seen as universally bad, vulnerable teenagers experience greater negative effects on life online.
In her survey of North Carolina schoolchildren, 48 percent of 11-year-olds said they owned a mobile phone as did eighty-five percent of 14-year-olds.
In her survey of North Carolina schoolchildren, 48 percent of 11-year-olds said they owned a mobile phone as did eighty-five percent of 14-year-olds. Wikimedia Commons
“What we’re seeing now may be the emergence of a new kind of digital divide, in which differences in online experiences are amplifying risks among already vulnerable adolescents,” said Odgers, who is also a fellow in Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s Child & Brain Development programme.
For the last 10 years, Odgers has been tracking adolescents’ mental health and their use of smartphones.
In her survey of North Carolina schoolchildren, 48 percent of 11-year-olds said they owned a mobile phone as did eighty-five percent of 14-year-olds.
The study showed that teenagers from families with a household income of less than $35,000 per year spent three more hours a day on screen media watching TV and online videos than teenagers in families with an annual income of more than $100,000.
The increased screen time could also convert to more problems offline, the findings showed.
“The evidence so far suggests that smartphones may serve as mirrors reflecting problems teens already have. Those from low-income families said that social media experiences more frequently spilt over into real life, causing more offline fights and problems at school,” Odgers said.

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