The researchers at University College London have published a study which revealed that watching TV for more than three and a half hours per day can decline the verbal memory.
This study was done to analyze the memory decline in adults aged 50 and over and it was published in the Scientific Reports on February 28th, 2019.
The researchers analyzed the data of over 3,662 adults who were over the age of 50. It was found in the study that watching more TV was associated with the loss in memory power of words and language in the following six years. This result was not dependent on any other behavioral, socio-economic and lifestyle factors.
During the study, the participants were asked about the time spent in watching television in the years 2008/9 and in 2014/15. During the analysis, participants had to go through the number of verbal memory and fluency tests. These participants were from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
In that study, people who watched television for more than three and a half hours per day showed a decrease in verbal memory on an average of up to 10%. Also, 4% to 5% decrease in verbal memory was found in participants who spent less than three and a half hours per day on television.
Dr. Daisy Fancourt, one of the authors of this study said, “There has been interest for over a decade in the effect of television viewing behaviors on cognition, but much of this literature has concentrated on children.”
She added. “Much less attention has been paid to the effects of television viewing at the other end of the lifespan, despite it being hypothesized for over 25 years that watching excessive television could contribute to the development of dementia.”
One of the researchers in the study has mentioned the fact that watching television has benefits as well. It increases awareness and it entails other educational benefits including relaxation benefits. It is one of the stress busters and it has been suggested to watch television in a balanced way along with other complementary activities.
However, watching television for more than a reasonable time could lessen the exposure of people to other physical or mental activities. Such activities help to ensure better health of mind and body. The activities that are sacrificed during the time spent on television are reading books, walking outdoors, breathing fresh air or more.
The findings of the study arise many research questions related to different types of television content that can have different effects on cognitive decline.
There has been no direct link between TV exposure and the cognitive decline found in the study. The researchers are looking to carry out more such researches to elaborate on the impact of TV exposure or watching habits of older adults.