Getting naughty under the sheets as well as remaining emotionally attached to romantic partners in old age may not be linked to decline in memory skills, finds a study.
Although lifestyle factors, level of education, smoking and drinking habits and physical activity all play a role in the rate and extent of age-related cognitive decline, the study now shows that there is no link between sexual activity and rate of cognitive decline.
"Decline in memory performance over time was unrelated to sexual activity or emotional closeness during partnered sexual activity," said Mark Allen of the University of Wollongong in Australia.
For the study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, the team used data from more than 6,000 adults aged 50 and over.
Participants completed an episodic memory task and a questionnaire where they reported the frequency of intimate activities such as kissing, sexual touching and intercourse.
Allen found an overall decline in all participants' score on the memory test over time.
Further, the study builds on previous experimental work that showed sexual activity enhances elderly rodents' ability to recognise objects and, therefore, ultimately their episodic memory workings and overall brain health.
It stimulated the growth of neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is activated when episodic and spatial memory tasks are performed.