KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE as you age, because they may be the key to keeping your brain healthy.
According to a new study, published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, found that mice housed in groups had better memory and healthier brains than those living in pairs. So what does this mean for humans? The findings influence “a body of research in humans and animals that supports the role of social connections in preserving the mind and improving quality of life,” according to Elizabeth Kirby, assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and lead author of the study. In healthy humans, mice and other animals, brain function in the hippocampus declines with age. Social ties are recommended to preserve memory in this region of the brain in humans, Kirby says. A mouse with a healthy brain would recognize something has been relocated, and mice that lived in larger groups generally fared better on this assessment, according to Kirby.
Joseph B. Orange, a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Western University in Ontario, Canada, says this research is helpful for identifying the impact of social connections on brain health. “This advances our research that identifies social inclusion versus exclusion in advancing people’s lives,” says Orange, who was not involved in the research. “We want to use models that help our research in humans. Mice and humans share a lot in DNA structure, so the models used here are quite applicable.”
In healthy humans, mice and other animals, brain function in the hippocampus declines with age. Social ties are recommended to preserve memory in this region of the brain in humans, Kirby says. Although there were no differences in neuron growth in the hippocampus between the two groups, researchers found increased inflammation in the brain tissue of coupled mice, which is evidence of declined cognitive health. To read more click here.