So, does memorizing poetry reduce one's risk of dementia or simply improve one's ability to memorize poetry? Baffled scientists turn to Britney Spears for answers.
From The New York Times:
OOPS! Britney Spears forgot the words she meant to lip-sync at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday. With this momentary brain malfunction, she joined the absent-minded ranks of “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee, who dropped a line from her medley of “Hound Dog/All Shook Up” in last year’s finals, and Miss Teen South Carolina, Lauren Caitlin Upton, who plumb forgot what she was saying in a pageant interview that became a YouTube sensation.
It’s gotten easy to forget to teach young people how to remember. The Victorian ideal of encyclopedic knowledge has fallen away. While it used to be possible for one person to know all there was to know, with our current explosion of information, one person could never know it all. And said person isn’t even motivated to know a little bit — certainly not by heart.
But contemporary scientists have discovered that memorization exercises can stave off dementia, introducing a new world of “neurobics.” Memory needs a workout as much as the abs do. Researchers have even shown that reciting poetry in dactylic hexameter can help synchronize heartbeats with breathing.