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Boost mental acuity

Scientists from the University of Arizona have claimed that if people want to keep their brain sharp in their old age they should join social networking site Facebook.

They found that over 65s who use Facebook performed better in cognitive tests than those who simply surfed the internet or didn't use it all, the Daily Mail reported.

It's believed that the ever-changing nature of the site - like constantly rolling updates - may actually boost mental acuity.

Adults who used the site performed about 25 percent better on tasks designed to measure their ability to continuously monitor and quickly add or delete the contents of their working memory - a function called "updating."

For the study, 14 adults between 68 and 91 who had either never used the site or used it less than once a month were set up on Facebook and were instructed to make "friends" with those in their training group and asked to post on the site at least once a day.

A second group were taught to use online diary site, Penzu.com, in which entries are kept private.

Before the tests, participants completed a series of tests that assessed their levels of loneliness and social support, as well as their cognitive abilities.

Assessments were done again at the end of the study, eight weeks later.

In the follow-ups, those who had learned to use Facebook performed about 25 percent better than they did at the start of the study on tasks designed to measure their mental updating abilities.

Participants in the other group saw no significant change in their performance.

They said that Facebook could be a potential alternative to some online games marketed to older people to help boost mental acuity.

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