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Sex is the key to staying sharp in old age, says study

RESEARCH: A new study suggests sex links to older people's brain power

"SEX IS the key to staying sharp in old age," reports the Mail Online, after researchers found older people who have regular sex scored better on two of five brain tests.

The cross-sectional observational study was carried out by researchers from Coventry University and the University of Oxford, and found that participants who had sex at least once a week scored higher on tests that measured their verbal fluency and spatial awareness compared with those who had no sex at all.

The verbal fluency test involved asking participants to say as many words beginning with a letter – in this case "f" – in a minute, and also name as many animals as they can.

In the spatial awareness test, participants had to draw an image, such as a square, triangle, cube or pyramid, and draw a clock face from memory.

These tests are part of the Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination III (ACE-III) test, a standard test to measure brain function.

The study involved 73 people aged between 50 and 83, and was conducted by researchers at the universities of Coventry and Oxford.

Researchers say their results "demonstrate that older men and women who engage in regular sexual activity have better cognitive functioning than those who do not … or do so infrequently" – but it's not clear why.

Previous studies have shown that older people who have active social lives and keep physically active are likely to have better cognitive function.

It's possible the social or physical elements of sexual activity are simply another aspect of this previous finding.

Researchers speculated it could also be caused by the release of dopamine, a chemical that transmits information in the brain during activities like sex.

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