Working in a complex environment can help improve long-term memory, researchers reveal.
A study reported in Neurology found that certain jobs that involved mental challenges and demanded a more complex work with other people like social work, law, graphic designing and architecture, help to keep the brain sharp.
"These results suggest that more stimulating work environments may help people retain their thinking skills, and that this might be observed years after they have retired," author of the study, Dr Alan J. Gow, of Heriot-Watt University and the Center for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology in Edinburgh, Scotland said in a news release.
"Our findings have helped to identify the kinds of job demands that preserve memory and thinking later on."
As part of the study, nearly 1,066 people, aged 70, underwent tests that measured their memory, processing speed and general thinking ability. Researchers collected information about the nature of their jobs.
Jobs that required coordinating or synthesising the data were taken as complex jobs, while copying and comparing the data were considered to be less complex.
Similarly, giving instructions, negotiating or mentoring were taken as more complex than taking instructions or helping others.
So architects, civil engineers, graphic designers and musicians were included in the complex job category; and telephone operators, food servers and construction workers were placed under the less complex jobs. Researchers also collected results of an IQ test the participants had given at the age of 11.
At the end of the study, people who worked in mentally stimulating jobs like management and teaching scored better on memory and thinking tests than participants who were into a less complex jobs.
Researchers also found that people with higher cognitive abilities were more likely to have complex jobs, which further improved their memory and thinking abilities. "It is true that people who have higher cognitive abilities are more likely to get more complex jobs, there still seems to be a small advantage gained from these complex jobs for later thinking skills," Gow said.
Similar to the current study, previous research has shown that involving in brain stimulating activities throughout the life prevented memory decline at an old age.