You might assume that busy people burn out sooner, but new research finds that those who do more in a day have sharper minds in old age.

A team of scientists from the University of Texas have proved that workaholics have improved brain function, particularly when it comes to working memory, reasoning and vocabulary.

“We wanted to examine if daily busyness could serve as a proxy of mental engagement and to test if it had favorable or negative relationships with mental function,” explained Sara Festini, the lead author of the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study.

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Investigators, who published their results in journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, surveyed 330 volunteers — aged between 50 and 89 — who answered questions about their day-to-day schedules, and completed a series of mental tests.

“We found that busier people aged 50 to 89 tended to have better mental function,” said Festini. “The strongest relationship was observed between busyness and memory, specifically, the ability to remember certain events in the past.”

However, study results raised further questions that have to be investigated in the future. Although they suggest busyness is good for cognition, it is also possible that having heightened neurological characteristics contributes to a busier life. 

“Our work is just beginning on this topic, and more work is needed to fully understand this relationship,” concluded Festini. “Our next step is to assess if there is a connection between busyness and brain structure and brain function.”

-Dmitry Belyaev