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You can protect your loved ones’ brains by being a good listener

felix gussone

Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD, written by Health Guide Team

Last updated: Aug 20, 2021
1 min read

A new study suggests that having someone who listens to you when you need to talk might strengthen brain parts that help maintain cognitive function. In other words, your brain might be more resilient when someone is available to listen to you most or all of the time.

The researchers analyzed data from 2,171 adults who were 45 or older. Around nine months later, participants underwent brain MRIs and tests that measured cognitive function, which refers to a person’s mental capacity to learn, remember, and make decisions. 

Those adults who had another person—a listener—available most or all of the time had a brain that functioned about four years younger than their physical age. The authors say that the new study stresses the importance of having a strong support network of people you can interact with who will listen to you.


  1. Salinas, J., O’Donnell, A., Kojis, D.J. (2021). Association of social support with brain volume and cognition. JAMA Netw Open, 4(8). doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.21122. Retrieved from: