The hard work associated with reduction of the hippocampus and memory impairment in the elderly

American researchers have found that older people engaged in heavy physical labor in recent work, there are problems in working memory. In addition, analysis of MRI data pointed to a reduced size of the hippocampus of those study participants who experienced at work heavy physical overload. The nature of the relationship is unclear, but future studies regarding cognitive abilities in old age, it is necessary to consider the physical effort that a person spends at work, write scientists in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Many countries (including) are workers in heavy and hazardous physical labor in a particular category. It is assumed that the work requiring hard physical labour, quickly depletes the body, so the employees of this category is provided, for instance, the early retirement age.

However, strong physical stress at work (and, given the standard working hours at eight hours, it can be quite a lot) can affect cognitive functions, but this issue researchers pay much less attention. Fix it decided scientists led by Agnieszka Burzynski (Agnieszka Z. Burzynska) from the University of Colorado. Their study involved 70 women and 29 men aged 60 to 79 years. The researchers asked participants to talk in detail about their most recent place of work, in particular to assess the “physical stress” that work has been accounted for as the physical costs of participants, and the conditions in which they worked. The participants also provided demographic data, data on health and filled out a questionnaire on the subject of did they his latest work of psychological stress.

As the task the participants had to pass various tests for evaluation of cognitive functions (episodic memory, size of active vocabulary, quality of reasoning, and speed of perception). All participants had a structural MRI of the brain: in particular, the scientists focused on the hippocampus — important for memory area.

Scientists have found that subjective physical stress in the participants was related to both the size of the hippocampus (p = 0,031) and with the results of the tests on working memory (p = 0,018): those who experienced more stress, memory was worse, and the hippocampus is smaller. Interestingly, with other factors, neither the size of the hippocampus, nor the quality of memory nor correlated. In addition, the link remained even when researchers excluded from the model of physical stress outside of work and overall stress level — again, subjective.

Of course, the researchers did not make any conclusions about what hard work and physical stress cause the hippocampus decreases: but memory is getting worse: the connection they call bilateral; they also do not exclude that it is even being just a correlation due to those side variables in the study were not taken into account (although in General there were enough of them). However, the authors still insist that in future studies the changes of cognitive functions in the elderly must more fully take into account the experience at work, in particular in the framework of expended physical effort.

Of course, health can affect not only physical labor: last year, for example, the scientists foundthat severe mental labor associated with increased risk of developing type II diabetes in women. In General, a lot of work is harmful regardless of the work at least, work more than 10 hours a day can increase the risk of stroke.

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