Remember the benefits of chatting

 
By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: February 18th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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The next time your boss tells you to stop chattering with your co-workers and get back to work, tell her you’re building brain power.

New research suggests that social interaction may give your brain a significant boost in cognitive abilities. In fact, just chatting for ten minutes a day is associated with improved memory and test scores.

Scientists from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research conducted two studies. In the first, they analyzed data on nearly four-thousand people ages twenty-four to ninety-six. They found that the more social interaction a person had, the higher his or her cognitive abilities were likely to be.

In the second study, seventy-six college students were divided into three groups. One group discussed a social issue for ten minutes before taking a test. Another completed several intellectual tasks, including a reading comprehension exercise and a crossword puzzle, before the test. The third group watched a ten-minute clip of the television show “Seinfeld.”

The researchers found the group that had the short-term social interaction performed just as well on the test as the group engaged in the intellectual activities. Seinfeld viewers had no such boost.

The findings are expected to be published in the February 2008 issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Looking for other ways to improve your memory? Research shows that being physically active, eating a diet rich in antioxidants, listening to music and working puzzles all help to keep the brain healthy and alert.