Having someone near you who is always willing to listen and provide support helps delay the aging process of the brain. from New York University, Boston University, and Harvard Medical School.

Their conclusions were published in the journal JAMA Network Open (DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.21122).

“Supportive relationships help keep the brain in shape and strengthen cognitive immunity that protects the brain from rapid aging and makes the brain less susceptible to diseases, including dementia,” said Dr. Joel Salinas, co-author of the study.

The researchers used data from 2,171 people who participated in the multi-year Framingham Heart Study. The average age of the participants was 63 years. Respondents provided information on the quality of interactions with others (including conversations, listening, giving advice, and showing feelings or emotional support). Cognitive resistance was determined based on participants’ brain images and neuropsychological tests.

The researchers noted that one aspect of human interaction was clearly associated with greater cognitive flexibility. People who were in frequent contact with someone who could listen to them got better scores on cognitive tests and a larger brain size.

Dementia typically affects older adults, but studies have shown that young adults also benefit from communication with a kind listener. The brain change and testing of scores of participants younger than 65, who had rarely been in contact with someone who could hear them, indicated they were four years older than they actually were.

“While there are still many relationships between brain health and psychosocial factors that we don’t understand, these findings show that we can take steps to help slow the aging of our brains and the brains we love. So we should look for good listeners in our group, and become better listeners too. – Comments of Dr. Salinas. (PAP)

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