(HealthDay News) -- Forging new friendships and maintaining old ones may help slow cognitive decline among seniors, the U.S. National Institute on Aging says.
For seven years, researchers at Northwestern University studied a group of so-called "superagers" -- people 80 and older who had maintained long-standing friendships.
The researchers found that the group collectively had memories of past personal events that rivaled people up to 30 years younger.
What's more, the area of the brain called the anterior cingulate -- important for emotions and attention -- showed less cognitive decline among superagers than among others of a similar age group.
Participating in social activities such as visiting friends, volunteering and going on trips has been associated with better brain function, while older people who don't socialize as much have been found to be at increased risk of dementia, the Institute says.