According to new research, reading these sentences carefully can prevent dementia. Do you understand them?
- Researchers from MIT tested how the brain responds to different sentences
- They found that complex sentences stimulated a greater brain response
- READ MORE: Learning a new language could reduce your risk of dementia by a fifth
Understanding complex sentences can keep your brain sharp and possibly lower your risk of dementia, a new study shows.
Reading prose, including: 'buy-sell signals remain a special thing', 'a handful of lubes from therapies, yes' and 'people on Insta are 'gross!', can make the brain work harder, loosening the neural connections be strengthened.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used artificial intelligence to test how complex sentences affect the brain's language centers – compared to simple sentences.
These brain areas are located in the left frontal and temporal lobes (which are behind the ear).
Experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scanned participants' brains as they read a series of sentences of varying complexity
The team composed 1,000 sentences of varying complexity and had five participants read them while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity.
They found that complex sentences elicit a stronger response in the brain than simpler sentences, forcing the organ to work harder to understand them.
The findings are consistent with recent research suggesting that giving your brain intense activity, such as learning a new language or reading a newspaper, strengthens pathways in the brain, reducing your risk of dementia, which is one affects one in ten older Americans.
Researchers looked at 13 leisure activities and their impact on dementia risk: six were considered 'intellectual' and seven 'social'. Cell phone use and newspaper reading were found to be statistically significant in reducing the risk of dementia
But now researchers have found a collection of specific phrases that have this effect.
Dr. Evelina Fedorenko, an associate professor of neuroscience at MIT and involved in the research, said that when the brain encounters a sentence with familiar words or structure, it does not have to work hard to understand it.
'However, if a sentence uses foreign language or structure, the brain has to work harder to understand it.
The sentences were also entered into an artificial intelligence model similar to ChatGPT. From there, the team developed a coding model, which predicts how the human language network might respond to a new sentence.
They found that sentences with higher “surprise” (meaning it was less common and familiar) generated stronger brain responses, showing that they took more effort to process.
“We found that the sentences that elicit the highest brain response have some grammatical oddity and/or meaning,” said Dr. Fedorenko. “There's something unusual about these sentences.”
Other recent research has found that performing mentally complex tasks, such as reading unfamiliar sentences, can prevent conditions such as dementia.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological conditions (affecting the brain), which affect memory, thinking and behaviour.
Common symptoms include memory loss, poor judgment, confusion, repetitive questions, communication problems, taking longer to complete normal daily tasks, acting impulsively and mobility problems.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, dementia affects up to one in 10 American adults over the age of 65.
A British study of 282,000 participants aged 40 to 69 found that those who took educational classes, for example to learn a new language, had a 19 percent lower risk of developing dementia over the course of seven years.
Furthermore, a study by University College London found that women who regularly read the newspaper have a 35 percent lower risk than the rest of the population. Engaging in intellectual activities such as attending art or music events also resulted in a lower risk of dementia.