Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Education boosts brain function long after school

12.03.2014

Education significantly improves mental functioning in seniors even four decades after finishing school, shows a new study published in the journal Demography by researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Linz.

European populations are growing older on average, a trend that could pose serious challenges to health care, budgets, and economic growth.

As a greater proportion of a country’s population grows into old age, average cognition levels and national productivity tend to decline, and the incidence of dementia increases.

“Finding ways to improve the cognition of seniors is of central importance to the economic well-being of aging countries,” says IIASA researcher Vegard Skirbekk, who worked on the study with researchers Nicole Schneeweis and Rudolf Winter Ebmer at Linz University

The study examined variation in years of schooling arising from compulsory educational reforms implemented in six European countries during the 1950s and 1960s, measuring mental functioning in seniors with various levels of schooling.

It shows that the burden of demographic change is likely to depend more on how healthy and mentally fit people are at different ages than on the exact age structure of people in a population. The study also shows that education tends to significantly boost brain function, and that this effect persists as a person ages.

The study shows that people who attended school for longer periods because of new regulations performed better in terms of cognitive functioning than those who did not. Using data from individuals aged around 60 from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe, the researchers found a positive impact of schooling on memory scores.

The fact that young people or their parents did not choose whether to go longer to school strongly suggests that schooling is the cause rather than personal characteristics that would affect this choice and could also explain the differences in cognitive function.

“Examining the variation in compulsory schooling was key.” It allowed us to find out that education was the cause of better cognitive function, and not a simple correlation,” says Winter-Ebmer. 

Furthermore, the study finds evidence for a protective effect of schooling for the brain: more education slows cognitive decline. The researchers say that education can be an important measure for maintaining cognitive functioning and protecting against cognitive decline, thereby alleviating the challenges that population aging would otherwise present.

Reference
Nicole Schneeweis, Vegard Skirbekk, Rudolf Winter-Ebmer (2014). Does Education Improve Cognitive Performance Four Decades After School Completion? Demography, February 2014 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13524-014-0281-1

For more information please contact:
Vegard Skirbekk
Project Leader
World Population
T +43(0) 2236 807 378
skirbekk@iiasa.ac.at

About IIASA:
IIASA is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by scientific institutions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. www.iiasa.ac.at

MSc Katherine Leitzell | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Analysis Completion Education Health IIASA cognitive function levels

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Risk-taking propensity changes, especially in young adulthood and in older age
29.01.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Designing a pop-up future
27.01.2016 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Automated driving: Steering without limits

OmniSteer project to increase automobiles’ urban maneuverability begins with a € 3.4 million budget

Automobiles increase the mobility of their users. However, their maneuverability is pushed to the limit by cramped inner city conditions. Those who need to...

Im Focus: Microscopy: Nine at one blow

Advance in biomedical imaging: The University of Würzburg's Biocenter has enhanced fluorescence microscopy to label and visualise up to nine different cell structures simultaneously.

Fluorescence microscopy allows researchers to visualise biomolecules in cells. They label the molecules using fluorescent probes, excite them with light and...

Im Focus: NASA's ICESat-2 equipped with unique 3-D manufactured part

NASA's follow-on to the successful ICESat mission will employ a never-before-flown technique for determining the topography of ice sheets and the thickness of sea ice, but that won't be the only first for this mission.

Slated for launch in 2018, NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) also will carry a 3-D printed part made of polyetherketoneketone (PEKK),...

Im Focus: Sinking islands: Does the rise of sea level endanger the Takuu Atoll in the Pacific?

In the last decades, sea level has been rising continuously – about 3.3 mm per year. For reef islands such as the Maldives or the Marshall Islands a sinister picture is being painted evoking the demise of the island states and their cultures. Are the effects of sea-level rise already noticeable on reef islands? Scientists from the ZMT have now answered this question for the Takuu Atoll, a group of Pacific islands, located northeast of Papua New Guinea.

In the last decades, sea level has been rising continuously – about 3.3 mm per year. For reef islands such as the Maldives or the Marshall Islands a sinister...

Im Focus: Energy-saving minicomputers for the ‘Internet of Things’

The ‘Internet of Things’ is growing rapidly. Mobile phones, washing machines and the milk bottle in the fridge: the idea is that minicomputers connected to these will be able to process information, receive and send data. This requires electrical power. Transistors that are capable of switching information with a single electron use far less power than field effect transistors that are commonly used in computers. However, these innovative electronic switches do not yet work at room temperature. Scientists working on the new EU research project ‘Ions4Set’ intend to change this. The program will be launched on February 1. It is coordinated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR).

“Billions of tiny computers will in future communicate with each other via the Internet or locally. Yet power consumption currently remains a great obstacle”,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AKL’16: Experience Laser Technology Live in Europe´s Largest Laser Application Center!

02.02.2016 | Event News

From intelligent knee braces to anti-theft backpacks

26.01.2016 | Event News

DATE 2016 Highlighting Automotive and Secure Systems

26.01.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new potential biomarker for cancer imaging

05.02.2016 | Life Sciences

Graphene is strong, but is it tough?

05.02.2016 | Materials Sciences

Tiniest Particles Shrink Before Exploding When Hit With SLAC's X-ray Laser

05.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>