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Story Updated: Jul 10, 2013

Does exercising your brain from childhood to old age really protect your memory?

That was the question posed by researchers in Chicago.

2-hundred-94 senior citizens were given tests that measured their memory and thinking every year for about six years before their deaths.

They also answered a questionnaire asking whether they read books, wrote or participated in other mentally stimulating activities in childhood, With , middle age and at their current age.

After they died, their brains were examined at autopsy for physical signs of dementia, such as lesions and brain plaques.

Analyzing all of the data, the researchers concluded that people who participated in mentally stimulating activities both early and late in life had a slower rate of memory decline compared to those who did not.

In fact, the rate of decline was reduced by a healthy 32-percent in people with frequent mental activity in the senior years.

Bottom line...exercising your brain over a lifetime seems to have a very positive effect.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news that can help you stay healthy, happy, and fit.

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