Spending just 10 minutes talking to another person can help improve your memory and your performance on tests, according to a University of Michigan study to be published in the February 2008 issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
“In our study, socializing was just as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance,” said Oscar Ybarra, a psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and a lead author of the study with ISR psychologist Eugene Burnstein and psychologist Piotr Winkielman from the University of California, San Diego.
…The survey data included information on a national, stratified area probability sample of 3,610 people between the ages of 24 and 96. Their mental function was assessed through the mini-mental exam, a widely used test that measures knowledge of personal information and current events and that also includes a simple test of working memory.
…The higher the level of participants’ social interaction, researchers found, the better their cognitive functioning. This relationship was reliable for all age groups, from the youngest through the oldest.
…”We found that short-term social interaction lasting for just 10 minutes boosted participants’ intellectual performance as much as engaging in so-called ‘intellectual’ activities for the same amount of time,” Ybarra said.
...findings also suggest that social isolation may have a negative effect on intellectual abilities as well as emotional well-being.