The gift of gab could boost brainpower, new research
A U.S. team found that talking to another person
for 10 minutes a day improves memory and test
They found that "socializing was just as
effective as more traditional kinds of mental
exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance,"
lead author Oscar Ybarra, a psychologist at the
of Michigan Institute for Social Research,
said in a prepared statement.
In one investigation, they analyzed data on 3,610
people, ages 24 to 96.
They found that the higher their level of social
interaction, the better their cognitive functioning.
Social interaction included getting together or
having phone chats with relatives, friends and
In another experiment, the researchers conducted
lab tests on 76 college students, ages 18 to 21,
to assess how social interactions and intellectual
exercises affected the results of memory and mental
The students were divided into three groups:
The social interaction group had a discussion
of a social issue for 10 minutes before taking
the tests; the intellectual activities group completed
three tasks (including a reading comprehension
exercise and a crossword puzzle) before the tests;
and a control group watched a 10-minute clip of
the Seinfeld television show.
"We found that short-term social interaction
lasting for just 10 minutes boosted participants'
intellectual performance as much as engaging in
so-called 'intellectual' activities for
the same amount of time," Ybarra said.
The findings suggest that having a friendly chat
with someone each day may be as helpful is staying
mentally sharp as doing a daily
The study was expected to be published in the
February 2008 issue of the journal Personality
and Social Psychology Bulletin.