- Researchers say watching a funny film with good plot stimulates the brain
- Crucially, discussing film afterwards helps to keep the mind active
- Southampton University are launching a study involving 40 elderly patients
- Dr Roxana Carare believes intellectual stimulation can prevent the build-up of toxins in the brain which lead to Alzheimer’s disease
Going to the cinema once or twice a week could hold the key to preventing dementia, researchers claim.
Watching a funny film with a good plot helps to stimulate the brain and prevent the build-up of harmful deposits, they believe.
Crucially, discussing the film with friends afterwards helps to keep the mind active and guards against the formation of the plaques that cause Alzheimer’s.
In a bid to prove their thesis, academics from Southampton University are launching a study involving 40 elderly patients – half of whom will go to the cinema once or twice a week.
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Researchers say watching a funny film with a good plot helps to stimulate the brain and could be the key to preventing dementia. Stock photo
They will then have a detailed discussion about the plot, the characters and what they made of the film overall over a cup of coffee or tea afterwards.
Dr Roxana Carare, who is leading the research, believes this intellectual stimulation can prevent the build-up of toxins in the brain, called Amyloid-β, which lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
‘In order to keep the elimination of these toxins efficient, you need to keep the walls of the blood vessels healthy,’ she said. ‘You can do this by exercising of the brain or stimulation.
‘The films will stimulate the brain because of what you see and hear and crucially because of the discussions afterwards.
‘The bottom line is we’re trying to prevent these toxins accumulating in the brain by keeping the blood vessels pumping and brain active.’
Dr Carare, an Associate Professor in Cerebrovascular Ageing, cited the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Dame Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, as an ideal film.
It tells the story of seven pensioners spending their retirement in a hotel in India Patients would easily be able to relate the characters who are not dissimilar in age and it is both funny and intellectually stimulating.
However, she said sci fi films were not ideal, as patients may lose concentration and find them difficult to believe.
Amyloid plaques start to form as the walls of the blood vessels in the brain start to stiffen and lose their ability to get rid of toxins.
To prove their thesis, academics from Southampton University are launching a study involving 40 elderly patients and will send half of them to the cinema once or twice a week. Stock photo
Some patients have weaker blood vessel walls – possibly due to their genes – and gradually, the toxins build up.
They create deposits called plaques which damage the surrounding cells and cause Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia.
Dr Carare’s study is due to begin this summer and will involve 40 elderly patients who have mild memory and concentration problems, but have not been diagnosed with dementia.
Half will go to the cinema or watch an older film together on a large screen once or twice a week and have a discussion for about an hour afterwards.
All patients will also undergo memory and concentration assessments once or twice a month to see if the films are improving the function of their brains.
An estimated 850,000 people in Britain have dementia and 1 in 3 of us will develop the illness during our lifetime.
But drug companies have failed to find a cure despite millions being invested in research over the past few decades.
Last month a major report warned that the search for effective treatments had been hampered by ‘funding fatigue’.
The World Innovation Research Summit said drugs companies were less willing to pay for trials following a series of expensive failures.