Remember your parents telling you that TV will rot your brain? In a sense they were right. Only it doesn’t mess with kids’ brains, it actually can hurt seniors’ memory. This is concerning because Americans still watch TV over anything else.
All About the Study Participants
A pair of British researchers found that too much TV makes verbal memory decline. The study showed that watching TV for more than 3.5 hours a day can contribute to cognitive decline.
The study, published in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, had 3,590 participants. They started in 2008-9 and were followed up on 6 years later.
The researchers divided the participants into 5 different groups based on their TV habits.
- Group 1: under 2.5 hours a day
- Group 2: 2.5-3.5 hours a day
- Group 3: 3.5-4.5 hours a day
- Group 4: 4.5-7 hours a day
- Group 5: over 7 hours a day
Women, single people, and low socioeconomic status people watched the most TV.
Too Much TV can Hurt Seniors’ Memory
The team of researchers studied two specific types of cognition, semantic fluency, and verbal memory. Semantic fluency was tested by thinking of as many animals as possible in a minute. Verbal memory was tested by remembering as many words as possible from a spoken list.
They didn’t find any associations with TV and semantic fluency. This is a commonly used marker of cognitive capabilities. They did find that watching more than 3.5 hours of a TV a day was connected to poorer verbal memory.
Accounting for other factors like demographics, health, and behavior, everything suggests that people who watched a lot of TV had worse brains. The most susceptible to decline were people with higher baseline cognition to begin with.
3.5 hours is the amount that causes an effect, not watching TV in general.
It’s thought that this happens because of the stress between your brain and body. When you watch TV, your brain is active, while your body is not. The “alert-passive interaction” can create a kind of cognitive stress that taxes your verbal memory skills.
Though there are cognitive benefits of more active screen watching like internet use and video gaming.
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