Evanston, Illinois — Everyone has a favorite memory they want to keep. Although many things will continue to bother us, physical and emotional conditions will eventually deprive them of their ability to remember key events. Researchers at Northwestern University say there may be a way to stop this eventual decline: just be happy. Their research shows that cheerful people suffer less memory loss as they age.
The study examined the cognitive abilities of nearly 1,000 middle-aged and elderly people in the United States over three different time periods. Then came the years from 1995 to 1996, from 2004 to 2006, and from 2013 to 2014.
In these exams, the study authors observed the range of positive emotions for each person in the past 30 days. In the last two exams, the researchers also asked the group to complete a memory performance test. The test requires participants to recall the word immediately after seeing it, and then recall it again 1
The results show that people who are enthusiastic and cheerful (a type of state psychologists call “positive emotions”) are less likely to lose memory over time.
“Our findings indicate that memory declines with age,” Northwest Airlines’ Claudia Haase said in the media.
Lead author and Northwestern PhD student Emily Hittner (Emily Hittner) added: “However, people with higher positive influence have less memory decline in the past ten years.”
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Previous research has also shown a positive link between brain health and maintaining active participation. One such study showed that older people who regularly participate in social activities have healthier brains.
On the other hand, previous reports indicate that people who suffer “negative effects” may damage the brain. A September study showed that people who deal with anxiety and mood disorders are more likely to develop dementia.
Northwest Research published in journal Psychological Science.