Photography helps keep a boomer brain fit

Crossword puzzles, sudoku, and listening to classical music won’t keep your mind as sharp as you once thought. Instead you should take up photography.

That’s according to researchers at the The University of Texas at Dallas who found that people who only participated in passive activities such as playing games or listening to music got little memory benefit. However, learning photography showed significant gains in memory.

Photographer Burl McDonald in Morro Bay, CA.  (Photo by Michael L. Baird,

Photographer Burl McDonald in Morro Bay, CA.
(Photo by Michael L. Baird,

More than 200 people who were over 60-years-old were split into various testing groups and asked to commit at least 15 hours per week to the activities.

One group learned photography with digital cameras and imaging software, a task requiring remembering verbal instruction and complex reasoning. A second group learned quilting with computer controlled sewing machines, requiring abstract thinking to create patterns. Participants in other groups performed passive tasks such as playing games, telling stories, or going to museums.

“Only the quilting and photography groups, who were confronted with continuous and prolonged mental challenge, improved their memory abilities,” lead researcher Dr. Denise Park said.

Capturing the rugged California coast with a digital camera.

Capturing the rugged California coast with a digital camera.

“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something – it is important to get out and do something unfamiliar and mentally challenging.”

[Read the study … click here]

Are you learning photography?  Let us know in the comments.

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  1. A friend has used photography to battle her Alzheimer’s for years now. She regularly sells her images to support a local Alzheimer’s support organization. Not only has she become a successful photographer, she also remains a vibrant, creative person. If anyone’s interested, we posted a blog article on photography as a second career at
    Best to all,

  2. I am in a continual process of mastering photography, even though I did complete a Certificate in Photography from the University of Tennessee a little over a year ago. The creative and technical aspects of photography does challenge my thought agility and keeps me thoroughly engaged (Note: I will turn 61 in a couple of months). I am definitely going to check out the site as mentioned in the comments above by Randy Grosse. Sounds interesting.

    1. William,

      Congratulations on your photography accomplishments. I agree that it is a continual process, and that’s part of the fun of photography. I greatly enjoy shooting in RAW mode with my Fuji’s and using Lightroom to develop.

      We are always open to accepting photo essays from baby boomers at It’s a good place to showcase your work.


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