New Study Shows Watching Television is Bad For Your Brain

You’ve probably heard someone say, “the tv will rot your brain.” Several recent studies reveal that this might be true. Researchers find that watching a lot of television through adulthood could age the brain faster and puts the viewer at risk of cognitive decline later in life.

Television and grey matter

Researchers also found out that moderate to high television viewing during midlife can be connected to lower grey matter volumes. However, sedentary behaviors that stimulate the brain, such as reading, were not found to have similar adverse effects.

Grey matter is a dark tissue located in the brain and spinal cord. It helps coordinate muscle movement, hearing, seeing, decision making, and other vital body functions. People with more grey matter generally have better cognitive skills.

The researchers showcased their findings after a series of studies at the Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2021, an American Heart Association event.

One study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health focused on television’s impact on grey matter volumes. Dr. Ryan Dougherty-  led team examined almost 600 participants around 30 years of age and asked them the average number of hours they watch television every day over the previous year. They then underwent MRI scans.

The scans revealed that the participants with the highest number of hours watching television also had the lowest grey matter volume. The researchers further discovered a 0.5% drop in the volume of grey matter for every additional hour of watching TV. That’s a similar rate to the annual decline rate in people during middle age.

Different impacts of various sedentary behaviors

Dr, Dougherty says that not all sedentary behaviors are equal to cognitive and brain health. For example, non-stimulating behaviors like watching tv are found to impair cognitive development. At the same time, cognitively stimulating sedentary activities like computer games and reading are linked to well-maintained cognition and lower risk of dementia.

The study author adds that considering different types of sedentary behavior is essential when investigating brain and cognitive health.

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