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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Television can be a drain on the brain

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's all Oprah's fault. Well not exactly, but you certainly could draw that conclusion. A new study out this week says that older women who watch soap operas or television talk shows are substantially more prone to memory loss and loss of attention skills. And the study doesn't just show a slight difference; it's a major difference in the brain drain.

The study compared older women who watched primarily news programs with those who watched the soaps and talk shows. Then they tested the subjects on memory, attention and mental quickness. Soap watchers showed signs of impairment seven times higher than those who watched news programs while those who spent their time watching Oprah and other talk shows were tested 13 times higher on mental impairment.

The study was so amazingly one-sided that the researchers aren't really sure what to make of the results. Spending time watching the daily soaps is a sign of a sedentary, homebound lifestyle and researchers already knew that staying physical and socially active helps to stave off mental decline. It's not the results that surprised the researchers but the amazing difference between the two groups tested.

I guess we shouldn't be overwhelmed by the findings. Actually it's just common sense. If you spend your time watching television (of any kind) and substitute that for exercise or social activity, we all know what those results will be.

The study focused on older women and the loss of memory and mental skills. But I can't help but wonder if the same study were conducted on younger, non-working folk, what the results might be. It's possible that some of the segment of society that declines to work and instead lives off of your tax dollars would benefit from turning off the television set and trying something a bit more productive.

If the difference in the study group is this one-sided, then maybe we should encourage those who wait for a monthly check to look at these results as well. Changing your life starts with a simple action on your part. It might be as simple as putting down the remote control.

What a concept!

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen