Researchers at the Tohoku University Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer (IDAC) are taking an innovative approach to finding out what makes people happy and healthy—and whether or not certain activities help our brains stay sharp as we age.
Neuroscience professor Dr. Yasuyuki Taki and his colleagues from IDAC have partnered with a local travel agency to examine whether or not frequent travel may increase feelings of happiness as well as help protect against a decline in brain health in older adults. For the next three years, researchers will gather information on senior travelers using detailed questionnaires as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at changes in the brain.
“We built the hypothesis that a person who travels often has a higher subjective wellbeing and a higher ability to cope with stress and cognitive brain functions than a person who travels less often,” said a member of the study team. “If we are able to scientifically prove that travelling has a positive impact on the brain and cognitive functions, we will have demonstrated that travel is beneficial in preventing dementia and extending healthy life expectancy.”
From preliminary questioning, researchers have already determined that the more time seniors spend traveling, the happier they tend to be.