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Study: Brainpower in the very old may be improving

Saturday - 7/13/2013, 10:32am  ET

FILE - Tina Reese leads a word game for residents at a nursing home in Lancaster, Pa. on Feb. 28, 2013. If you're lucky enough to live into your 90s, how well will your brain hold up? You may have an edge over people who've reached that age already, a new study hints. In results published Wednesday, July 10, 2013 in The Lancet, researchers found that on tests of mental abilities, a group of 95-year-old Danes scored better than a group of similarly aged Danes who’d been born 10 years earlier. (AP Photo/Intelligencer Journal, Dan Marschka)

MALCOLM RITTER
AP Science Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- If you're lucky enough to live into your 90s, how well will your brain hold up? You may have an edge over people who got there ahead of you, a new study hints.

Researchers found that on tests of mental abilities, a group of 95-year-old Danes scored better than a group of Danes born 10 years earlier, who had been tested when they were about the same age.

In a standard simple test, for example, 23 percent of them scored in the highest category, compared to 13 percent of the earlier-born group. Out of the 30 questions and tasks, members of the later-born group averaged two more correct responses than the earlier-born group did. The results were released Wednesday by the journal Lancet.

Why the better mental performance? It wasn't just better education, but beyond that the researchers could only guess at things like more intellectual stimulation and better diets earlier in life.

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