“Don’t Lose Your Brain at Work – The Role of Recurrent Novelty at Work in Cognitive and Brain Aging,” relates new findings about how work can affect brain aging.  (February 6, 2017 issue of Frontiers in Psychology)

Co-authors include Jan Oltmanns as well as Columbia Aging Center director Ursula Staudinger.

Cognitive and brain aging is strongly influenced by everyday settings such as work demands. Long-term exposure to low job complexity, for instance, has detrimental effects on cognitive functioning and regional gray matter (GM) volume. Brain and cognition, however, are also characterized by plasticity. We postulate that the experience of novelty (at work) is one important trigger of plasticity. We investigated the cumulative effect of recurrent exposure to work-task changes (WTC) at low levels of job complexity on GM volume and cognitive functioning of middle-aged production workers across a time window of 17 years. In a case-control study, we found that amount of WTC was associated with better processing speed and working memory as well as with more GM volume in brain regions that have been associated with learning and that show pronounced age-related decline. Recurrent novelty at work may serve as an ‘in vivo’ intervention that helps counteracting debilitating long-term effects of low job complexity.

For the full publication, see:

Posted by ILC-USA


We are getting older and more diverse, and that brings challenges. We cannot solve these challenges through healthcare alone. We also need municipalities, schools, companies, housing associations and older people themselves to achieve an age-friendly society. This requires cross-domain collaboration. But how can we achieve that?

In partnership with ILC-UK, the ILC Europe Network hosted its inaugural conference in Brussels on 6 March 2024 to explore the challenges and opportunities associated with an ageing European society. Other ILC Global Alliance members in attendance included ILC-Czech Republic, ILC-France and ILC-Netherlands.

Much more attention needs to be paid to the positive effects of the use of art in healthcare. Art makes people feel better and helps them to better cope with their illness. Art can also mean a lot in the social domain and prevention, and in shortening hospital admissions.