Award-winning paper by design prof details link between brain health, everyday gardening tasks

Typical gardening tasks can help older adults stave off age-related cognitive decline, said Susan Rodiek, Texas A&M associate professor of architecture, in an award-winning paper that brought international attention to research conducted by two colleagues at a Japanese university.

In the project, Masahiro Toyoda and Yuko Yokota, landscape design scholars at the University of Hyogo, found that the act of seeding and watering a garden activated elderly research subjects’ medial frontal pole, a part of the brain involved in cognitive processing tasks such as the recollection of source information, episodic memory retrieval, and other functions.

“Activity in this part of the brain has the potential to contribute to the maintenance or even improvement of people’s cognitive functions,” said Rodiek. “This finding provides a clue to how daily gardening activities could become a useful tool in the prevention of dementia.”

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