Strong vocabulary protects against cognitive decline

Posted on October 23, 2014

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or incipient dementia is a condition that some people develop as they age. Many experts believe it is an intermediate state between normal cognition and dementia.

MCI is defined as cognitive decline greater than expected for an individual’s age and education level but that does not interfere notably with activities of daily life. Symptoms often include forgetfulness and a decline in executive skills.

Scientists discovered use of a higher level of vocabulary appears to buttress cognitive reserve, the brain’s capacity to compensate for the loss of its functions.

Researchers chose a sample of 326 subjects over the age of 50. Two hundred twenty two were healthy individuals and 104 presented mild cognitive impairment. They then measured subjects levels of vocabulary, along with other measures such as their years of schooling, the complexity of their jobs, and their reading habits.

The results revealed a greater prevalence of mild cognitive impairment in participants who achieved a lower vocabulary level score.

This led to the conclusion that a higher level of vocabulary, as a measure of cognitive reserve, can protect against cognitive impairment.

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Source material from Psych Central