Enrichment effects on adult cognitive development; Can the functional capacity of older adults be preserved and enhanced?. Hertzog, C., Kramer, A. F., Wilson, R. S., & Lindenberger, U. (2008). Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(1), 1-65.
Some excerpts from the abstract:
“We begin with a theoretical framework that emphasizes the potential of behavior to influence levels of cognitive functioning. According to this framework, the undeniable presence of age-related decline in cognition does not invalidate the view that behavior can enhance cognitive functioning.
“We conclude that, on balance, the available evidence favors the hypothesis that maintaining an intellectually engaged and physically active lifestyle promotes successful cognitive aging.
“The longitudinal evidence consistently shows that engaging in intellectually stimulating activities is associated with better cognitive functioning at later points in time. Other studies show that meaningful social engagement is also predictive of better maintenance of cognitive functioning in old age. These longitudinal findings are also open to important rival explanations, but overall, the available evidence suggests that activities can postpone decline, attenuate decline, or provide prosthetic benefit in the face of normative cognitive decline, while at the same time indicating that late-life cognitive changes can result in curtailment of activities.
“Third, there is a parallel literature suggesting that physical activity, and aerobic exercise in particular, enhances older adults’ cognitive function. Unlike the literature on an active lifestyle, there is already an impressive array of work with humans and animal populations showing that exercise interventions have substantial benefits for cognitive function, particularly for aspects of fluid intelligence and executive function. Recent neuroscience research on this topic indicates that exercise has substantial effects on brain morphology and function, representing a plausible brain substrate for the observed effects of aerobic exercise and other activities on cognition.”