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Response to Daily Stress May Affect Cognitive Health

If you get really upset by long waits at the doctor or traffic jams, you may be hurting your brain. A recent study suggests that taking daily annoyances in stride instead of getting upset by stress may help preserve brain health in older adults.


Participants in the study included 111 people between the ages of 65 and 95 who were followed for 2.5 years. They took part in a series of cognitive assessments for six days over a two-week period every six months. They were also asked about stress they experienced that day as well as stressors experienced by a family member or close friend. They were then asked to rate how they felt right at the moment, choosing from a checklist of physical symptoms.


After examining the data, the researchers found that the people who responded to stress with negative emotions or were dourer in general had more fluctuations in their performance on the cognitive test, suggesting worse mental focus and cognitive health.


When the researchers looked at the results on an individual basis, they found that participants in their late 70s to mid-90s who were more reactive to negative stressors also had worse cognitive performance. In contrast, people in their late 60s to mid-70s did better on the test if they had more stressors.


Researchers from Oregon State University led the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 6, 2018, in Psychosomatic Medicine.

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