(HealthDay News) — Jobs requiring intellectually challenging tasks may help preserve thinking skills and memory as workers age, according to a study published online November 19 in Neurology.

Alan Gow, PhD, of Heriot-Watt University and the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology in Edinburgh, UK, and colleagues analyzed various levels of job complexity using the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Jobs scoring highly for the complexity of work with people, for example, are lawyer, social worker, surgeon, and probation officer. Jobs scoring lower for complexity of work with people are factory worker, bookbinder, painter, and carpet layer.

The researchers compared IQ scores obtained around age 11 from 1,066 Scottish people with their memory and reasoning scores around age 70. The scientists found that those who had mentally stimulating jobs appeared to retain sharper thinking even years after retirement.

“We see that those in more complex jobs generally do better on a range of cognitive ability measures,” Gow told HealthDay.

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