Three studies publicized at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health Conference led researchers to conclude that even moderate television consumption may be associated with cognitive decline as one begins to age.
Included in the first study were more than 6,000 participants with a steady pattern of television consumption over a span of six years during the 1980s and 1990s.
Researchers designated the participants into three distinct groups, comprised of individuals who frequently consumed television programming, those who watched on occasion, and those who never consumed.
“We found that compared to participants that reported watching very little television, participants that reported watching moderate or high amounts of television had about a 7% greater decline in cognitive function, based on their performance on cognitive tests over 15 years,” the authors of the study determined.
The subsequent two studies centered on neurophysiological factors, in which structural changes in the brain and gray matter, in particular, were examined among participants who consumed television programming.
“Watching TV is what we would classify as a cognitively passive sedentary behavior—a sedentary behavior that does not require much concentration or thought. This is in contrast to mentally active sedentary behaviors, like reading, that would be more cognitively stimulating or require more brain work,” the authors determined.