Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

From Architect to Social Worker: Complex Jobs May Protect Memory and Thinking Later in Life

20.11.2014

People whose jobs require more complex work with other people, such as social workers and lawyers, or with data, like architects or graphic designers, may end up having longer-lasting memory and thinking abilities compared to people who do less complex work, according to research published in the November 19, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“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,” said study author Alan J. Gow, PhD, of Heriot-Watt University and the Center for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology in Edinburgh, Scotland. “Our findings have helped to identify the kinds of job demands that preserve memory and thinking later on.”

For the study 1,066 Scottish people with an average age of 70 had their memory and thinking abilities tested at the University of Edinburgh. The tests looked at memory, processing speed and general thinking ability. Researchers also gathered information about the jobs participants held.

The job titles were assigned scores for the complexity of work with people, data and things. For example, complex jobs might involve coordinating or synthesizing data, while less complex jobs might involve copying or comparing data. In terms of working with others, more complex roles might involve instructing, negotiating or mentoring, while less complex jobs might involve taking instructions or helping.

The analysis used levels of complexity according to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Examples of jobs that score highly for the complexity of work with people are: lawyer, social worker, surgeon, probation officer. Examples of jobs that have lower scores for complexity of work with people are: factory worker, bookbinder, painter, carpet layer.

Examples of jobs that score highly for the complexity of work with data are: architect, civil engineer, graphic designer or musician. Examples of jobs that have lower scores for complexity of work with data include: construction worker, telephone operator or food server.

Researchers also had IQ scores from tests taken when the participants were 11 years old.

The study found that participants who held jobs with higher levels of complexity with data and people, such as management and teaching, had better scores on memory and thinking tests. The results remained the same after considering IQ at age 11, years of education and the lack of resources in the environment the person lived in (based on information from the area in terms of crime and access to services, for example).

Overall, the effect of occupation was small, accounting for about 1 percent to 2 percent of the variance between people with jobs of high and low complexity, which is comparable to other factors such as the association between not smoking and better thinking skills in later life.

Researchers have debated whether a more stimulating environment may build up a person’s “cognitive reserve,” acting as a buffer allowing the brain to function in spite of damage, or whether people with higher thinking skills are those who are able to go into more challenging occupations. “These results actually provide evidence for both theories,” Gow said.

“Factoring in people’s IQ at age 11 explained about 50 percent of the variance in thinking abilities in later life, but it did not account for all of the difference. That is, while 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.”

The study was supported by Age UK, as part of a wider research program called the Disconnected Mind, with additional support from the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

To learn more about cognition, please visit www.aan.com/patients 

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 28,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com  or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

Rachel L. Seroka | American Academy of Neurology

Further reports about: Academy of Neurology Memory Neurology Protect complexity thinking skills

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Researchers simplify tiny structures' construction drip by drip
12.11.2018 | Princeton University, Engineering School

nachricht Mandibular movement monitoring may help improve oral sleep apnea devices
06.11.2018 | Elsevier

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: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Putting food-safety detection in the hands of consumers

15.11.2018 | Information Technology

Insect Antibiotic Provides New Way to Eliminate Bacteria

15.11.2018 | Life Sciences

New findings help to better calculate the oceans’ contribution to climate regulation

15.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>