Complex jobs may protect your brain: Study

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London | Published: November 20, 2014 4:41 PM

Complex jobs that require a lot of difficult analysis or social interaction such as management and teaching...

Complex jobs that require a lot of difficult analysis or social interaction such as management and teaching may protect the brain from mental decline, according to a new research.

People whose jobs require more complex work with other people, such as social workers and lawyers, or with data, like architects or graphic designers, may end up having longer-lasting memory and thinking abilities compared to people who do less complex work, researchers said.

“These results suggest that more stimulating work environments may help people retain their thinking skills, and that this might be observed years after they have retired,” said study author Alan J Gow, from Heriot-Watt University and the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“Our findings have helped to identify the kinds of job demands that preserve memory and thinking later on,” said Gow.

For the study, 1,066 Scottish people with an average age of 70 had their memory and thinking abilities tested at the University of Edinburgh.

The tests looked at memory, processing speed and general thinking ability. Researchers also gathered information about the jobs participants held.

Researchers also had IQ scores from tests taken when the participants were 11 years old.

The study found that participants who held jobs with higher levels of complexity with data and people, such as management and teaching, had better scores on memory and thinking tests.

The results remained the same after considering IQ at age 11, years of education and the lack of resources in the environment the person lived in.

Overall, the effect of occupation was small, accounting for about 1 per cent to 2 per cent of the variance between people with jobs of high and low complexity, which is comparable to other factors such as the association between not smoking and better thinking skills in later life.

The study was published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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