Human beings possess a considerable reserve capacity that allows them to benefit from exposure to highly enriched environments. The hypothesis of environmental complexity states that those individuals involved in activities that require greater cognitive demands keep their cognitive abilities undamaged despite the passing of time. The aim of this review is to present an analysis of the results obtained from empirical research made between 1980 and 2014 in Europe and America, focusing on the impact that cognitive reserve has on older adults.
This review will demonstrate how environmental complexity and the importance of engaging in recreational activities influence individuals’ lives and their cognitive healthy aging. Bibliography was obtained systematically, through a defined search strategy of several data bases. Ninety one scientific articles were selected in agreement with the appropriateness they keep with the objective of the present research.
In regard to pharmacological treatment, there is little evidence that cholinesterase inhibitor drugs affect progression to dementia or improve cognitive performance of patients with MCI. Complementarily, mixed results have been reported from different research lines that use cognitive training. Besides, there is increasing evidence that consider the role of environment and lifestyle as protective factors for the development of Alzheimer’s disease from MCI. The review sheds some suggestions for future research related to the studied topics and for professional intervention in the area of gerontology.
Keywords: Activity theory, cognitive functioning, environmental complexity, leisure activities, professional intervention, work complexity.