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Contributed by Julie Chambers on 06/17/2013
Yvonne Rogalski, assistant professor in the department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and her former student, Muriel Quintana, have recently had their article "Activity engagement in cognitive aging: A review of the evidence" published in the journal "Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders."
The population of older adults is rapidly increasing, as is the number and type of products and interventions proposed to prevent or reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Advocacy and prevention are part of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (ASHA's) scope of practice documents, and speech-language pathologists must have basic awareness of the evidence contributing to healthy cognitive aging. In this article, we provide a brief overview outlining the evidence on activity engagement and its effects on cognition in older adults. We explore the current evidence around the activities of eating and drinking with a discussion on the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols, alcohol, and coffee. We investigate the evidence on the hypothesized neuroprotective effects of social activity, the evidence on computerized cognitive training, and the emerging behavioral and neuroimaging evidence on physical activity. We conclude that actively aging using a combination of several strategies may be our best line of defense against cognitive decline.