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研究称有挑战的工作更健脑

Anne Fisher 2014年04月04日

美国密歇根大学社会研究院最新研究结论称,一个人退休前的工作越具有挑战性,他就越有可能在未来保持更好更敏锐的思维。尤其在记忆方面,他们记忆衰退的发生率和速度都会显著降低。

    今天开始了。你就像往常一样,在挤满各种任务的工作日中要做出决策、解决问题、评估新资讯、针对棘手状况制定妙策,同时为所属团队制定各种策略。大多数经理人的日常工作就是如此种种。虽然有时候面临着巨大的压力,但你的大脑在处理这些接踵而至的任务中也获的了益处:比起那些从事机械性工作的人,你更有机会在未来人生,特别是退休许久之后,继续保持敏锐的头脑。

    这是科罗拉多州立大学(Colorado State University)心理学讲师格温妮丝•费舍尔领导美国密歇根大学社会研究院(the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research)进行的一项最新研究得出的结论。费舍尔说,根据18年的数据,这个研究发现,“一些具有挑战性的工作种类有益于加强和保护人们晚年时的心智能力”。密歇根大学的这项“健康与退休研究”调查共调查了超过20,000名有人口学代表性的51岁至61岁中老年美国人。从1992年至2008年,研究者每隔两年就会向调查对象发放问卷,而这项研究共研究了其中4,182名受访者的回复。这些受访者岗位行业各自不同,但在退休前,他们都在同类型的岗位上工作了相当长的时间——至少10年,平均25年。

    研究人员还研究了受访者工作所必须的“心智能力”,并使用了一系列标准化考试,用以衡量受访者的认知敏捷程度。测试项目包括了给出一系列名词,要求受访者立刻和隔一段时间回忆出名单中的词语;还要求受访者从100开始,7个7个倒数下去。

    研究结果清楚地表明,一个人退休前的工作越具有挑战性,他就越有可能在未来保持更好更敏锐的思维。尤其在记忆方面,他们记忆衰退的发生率和速度都显著降低。此外,退休前在两种不同种类岗位上工作的人,随着时间流逝,他们的心智能力差距会不断加剧。

    而那些在职责更简单更容易的岗位上工作的人们,随着年龄增大,是否就必定会像这项研究暗示的那样,经历更严重更迅速的认知能力衰退?不一定。

    费舍尔说,“在工作之外,人们的业余生活也可能是一项决定未来心智能力的因素。”如果人们有一项能刺激大脑的兴趣爱好——无论是学一门外语、学习天文、还是就任何一个自己不熟悉的专业去上课学习,都可能和从事困难工作一样,给大脑带来同样的益处。费舍尔还指出:“无论何时,接收处理新信息、学习新技能、或者完全一项从未接触过的工作,都会给大脑带来好处。关键还是在于,要主动让自己思维处于活跃状态,接受各种挑战。”(财富中文网)

    这项研究的完整版本已经发表在《职业健康心理学》期刊三月版。

    译者:Liam

    

    So there you are as usual, spending your jam-packed workday making decisions, solving problems, evaluating new information, coming up with creative approaches to tricky situations, and setting strategy for your team. It's what most managers do and, as stressful as it can get, all those constant demands on your brain turn out to have an upside: In later years, probably well into retirement, you may stay sharper mentally than people whose jobs are more routine.

    That's the conclusion of a new study from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, led by Gwenith Fisher, who teaches psychology at Colorado State University. Fisher says the research, based on data spanning 18 years, found that "certain kinds of challenging jobs have the potential to enhance and protect mental functioning later in life."

    In analyzing responses from 4,182 people who participate in the U-M Health and Retirement Study, which surveys a representative sample of more than 20,000 older Americans every two years, the researchers looked at eight different polls taken between 1992 and 2010, when the participants were between 51 and 61 years old. They worked in a variety of jobs and had been doing the same type of work for at least 10 years -- about 25 years on average -- before they retired.

    The researchers also looked at the "mental requirements" of each job those people reported having held, and tested their acumen on a variety of standardized tests designed to measure cognitive nimbleness, such as recalling a list of nouns immediately after seeing it and again after a delay, and counting backwards from 100 by sevens.

    The results clearly showed that the more mentally challenging a person's work before retirement, the more likely he or she was to maintain a high degree of mental sharpness, especially fewer and slower declines in memory, afterward. Moreover, the differences between people who retired from demanding jobs and those who'd had more routine occupations increased as time went on.

    Does that imply that people with less complex and demanding jobs are doomed to suffer steeper, more rapid cognitive declines as they age? Not necessarily.

    "What people do outside of work could also be a factor," Fisher says. A stimulating hobby or interest could have the same beneficial effect on the cerebrum as challenging work -- whether it's learning a foreign language, studying astronomy, or taking a class in any unfamiliar subject. "Any time you are taking in new information, learning a new skill, or doing a new task, the brain benefits from that," she notes. "The key is to be actively engaged and challenged mentally."

    The full study appeared in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

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