July 24, 2007

Cognitive reserve: stimulating activities build a buffer that protects us

I came across something called cognitive reserve theory (on the photo: researcher Yaakov Stern). Cognitive reserve theory says the following:
  • Lifetime experiences, like education, engaging occupation, and leisure activities, have been shown to have a major influence on how we age, specifically on whether we will develop Alzheimer's symptoms or not.
  • This is so because stimulating activities, ideally combining physical exercise, learning and social interaction, help us build a Cognitive Reserve to protect us.
  • The earlier we start building our Reserve, the better; but it is never too late to start. And, the more activities, the better: the effect is cumulative.
Reading this I can't help but think about Carol Dweck's work on The Growth Mindset. Seems like the growth mindset helps to build a buffer against certain types of mental illness. This corresponds directly with a tenet of positive psychology that building strengths has the effect of building a buffer against problems.

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