Remember the benefits of chatting

By Staff Writer • Published: February 13th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

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, chatting for as little as 10 minutes a day is associated with improved memory and test scores.

Scientists from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research conducted two studies examining the link between talking and brain power. In the first study, they analyzed data on nearly 4,000 people between the ages of 24 and 96. 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, 76 college students were divided into three groups. One group discussed a social issue for 10 minutes before taking a test. The second group completed several intellectual tasks, including a reading comprehension exercise and a crossword puzzle, and then took the test. The third group watched a ten-minute clip of the television show “Seinfeld” before they completed the test.

The researchers found the group that engaged in the short-term social interaction performed just as well on the test as the group that focused on intellectual pursuits. No such luck for the folks who watched Seinfeld. The sitcome may be funny but it didn’t provide a cognitive boost.

The findings of the study were published in 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 completing puzzles all help to keep the brain healthy and alert.