Many of my COREageous founders are seniors. We know that stress and sleep deprivation at any age can weaken a most valuable cognitive function — working memory — the ability to capture and remember many pieces information while shifting between tasks. But as we age, working memory is the first executive function to break down.
With so little free time available, what is one of the best ways to preserve or enhance working memory?
A study from the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois divided 76 adults into two groups. Group One read engaging books on an iPad for 90 minutes a day, 5 days a week for eight weeks. Group Two played word games and puzzles on an iPad with the same frequency.
The results? Cognitive testing revealed that the reading group showed significant improvements in working memory. The study suggests that regular engaged reading strengthened older adults’ memory skills. Plus, as you get deeper in a book, information accumulates and builds on itself which requires attention and concentration. The increasing load of information challenges your working memory capacity.
According to Bill Murphy Jr., author of the free e-book Neuroscience: 13 Ways to Understand and Train Your Brain for Life, book reading as a regular activity has significantly dipped from 28% to 19% between 2004 and 2017. This may be due to people reading more headlines and shorter disconnected articles on their phones. See more at www.billmurphyjr.com
A note of personal disclosure: This really works! When I have carved out regular chunks of time in the evening to read, I noticed significant improvements in information recall and the ability to hold on to more information while shifting between tasks. I support daily book reading as a wise investment in your cognitive core.