When you text a friend, use the internet, read a book or play a computer game, you’re using your cognitive abilities. Cognitive abilities are the mental skills you need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. These mental skills include awareness, information handling, memory and reasoning.

As we get older, our brains age as well as our bodies, and we may find it more difficult to remember, learn and think about things. This is called cognitive decline, and it’s one of the parts of growing old that people most fear.

Caring for a person with a severe decline in cognitive ability can place a heavy burden on family, friends and social services. Scientists at the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology hope to ease this burden by studying cognitive decline. They are doing this in several ways.

If researchers can identify habits and lifestyles that affect the way our brains age, it may be possible to prevent some of the cognitive decline that happens to us as we get older.

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