CANBERRA: Managing other people at work triggers structural changes in the brain, protecting its memory and learning centre well into old age, Australia’s study revealed on Friday, Xinhua News reported.
Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers have, for the first time, identified a clear link between managerial experience throughout a person’s working life, and the integrity and larger size of an individual’s hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory) at the age of 80.
“We found a clear relationship between the number of employees a person may have supervised or been responsible for and the size of the hippocampus,” Dr Michael Valenzuela, Leader of Regenerative Neuroscience in UNSW’s School of Psychiatry, said in a statement released on Friday.
“This could be linked to the unique mental demands of managing people, which requires continuous problem solving, short term memory and a lot of emotional intelligence, such as the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Over time this could translate into the structural brain changes we observed.”
The findings confirmed that staying mentally active promotes brain health, potentially warding off neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Using MRI imagery in a cohort of 75-92 year-olds, researchers found larger hippocampal volumes in those with managerial experience compared to those without. The effect was also seen in women who had taken on managerial roles in nursing or teaching, for example.
The study was presented at this week’s Brain Sciences UNSW symposium Brain Plasticity The Adaptable Brain, held in Australia.