Older people who are physically fit may be less likely to experience “tip-of-the-tongue” lapses, according to a British study in Scientific Reports in April 2018.
This frustrating type of language glitch occurs when a speaker knows a word but can’t think of it. The glitches tend to become more frequent with age but are not considered a sign of cognitive impairment.
The researchers had 28 healthy older people (average age 70) and 27 younger people (average age 23) do stationary cycling to measure their aerobic fitness; they also had them do computer-based word-retrieval testing to evaluate the frequency of tip-of-the-tongue lapses.
They found that the older group performed about half as well in the language tests as did the younger group. They also found that the more aerobically fit the older participants were, the less likely they were to experience tip-of-the-tongue lapses in the testing.In effect, fit older people performed almost as well as the average younger person.
Aerobic fitness is associated with vascular benefits for the aging brain, including better blood flow to the brain, according to the researchers.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see How Exercise Boosts Your Brain.