Researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela have found that a rich vocabulary can actually protect you against cognitive impairment.
‘Cognitive reserve’ is the name given to the brain’s capacity to compensate for the loss of its functions. This reserve cannot be measured directly; rather, it is calculated through indicators believed to increase this capacity.
A research project at the University of Santiago de Compostela studied how having a wide vocabulary influences cognitive reserve in the elderly.
The research team chose a sample of 326 subjects over the age of 50 – 222 healthy individuals and 104 with mild cognitive impairment. They then measured their levels of vocabulary, along with other measures such as their years of schooling, the complexity of their jobs and their reading habits.
The results revealed a greater prevalence of mild cognitive impairment in participants who achieved a lower vocabulary level score, which led to the researchers concluding that a higher level of vocabulary can protect against cognitive impairment.
Cristina Lojo-Seoane, David Facal, Onésimo Juncos-Rabadán y Arturo X. Pereiro. “El nivel de vocabulario como indicador de reserva cognitiva en la evaluación del deterioro cognitivo ligero”, Anales de psicología 30 (3): 1115-1121, octubre de 2014.