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Want a sharp mind, strong memory? Ramp up activities

August 8, 2019

About the Author

photo of Andrew E. Budson, MD

Andrew E. Budson, MD, Contributor

Dr. Andrew E. Budson is chief of cognitive & behavioral neurology at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, lecturer in neurology at Harvard Medical School, and chair of the Science of Learning Innovation Group at the … See Full Bio
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Lynne Small
August 21, 2019

There is reading, and then there is reading. A lot of reading is very passive, but some involves a great deal of mental activity.

David J. Littleboy
August 8, 2019

Thanks for this: as a 67-year old retiree, what to do to make my 70s and 80s more fun is my main concern right now. (As an avid dilettante, the idea that a multiplicity of things helps is seriously good news.)

Your article doesn’t mention second language learning or bilingualism. I wonder if reading in one’s second language helps more than reading in one’s native language?

Andrew E. Budson, MD
August 9, 2019

Reading in a second language has not been studied in this context. If, however, the reading was challenging it would count as a “mentally stimulating activity.” So, paradoxically, the worse you are at your second language, the more reading in it is likely to help you!

Maria LJ
August 8, 2019

I think “reading books” is too general. Some non-fiction is clearly mentally stimulating and requires a lot of effort to comprehend. There’s a big difference between reading a generic mystery and reading a book reviewing the science behind, let’s say, global warming.

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