People with mentally complex jobs, including graphic designer and lawyers, may end up having healthier thinking in old age, research advises.

A study of more than one thousand Scottish 70-year-old found that those who had had complex jobs scored better on thinking and memory tests.

One theory is more stimulating atmosphere helps build up a cognitive reserve to support buffer the brain against age-related turn down.

The research was published in Neurology.

The Heriot-Watt University team, in Edinburgh, is now planning more jobs to look at how lifestyle and job interact to affect memory loss.

Those taking part in the study took experiments designed to assess memory, general thinking ability and processing speed, as well as filling in a questionnaire about their working life.

The analysis presented that those whose jobs had needed complex skills in dealing with people or data, such as teaching and management, had better scores on thinking and memory tests than those who had done less mentally strong jobs such as bookbinders, workers, or carpet layers.

To rule out that those with more hard jobs may have led top thinking abilities in the initial place, the experts looked at scores they had got in the Scottish Mental Survey in 1947.

They found that the advantage was decreased, but there was still a link between having a mentally motivating job, such as those including mentoring, negotiation, or synthesis of data, and superior cognitive capability years after job withdrawal.

Dr Alan Gow (Study leader) said: “Our findings have helped to identify the types of job demands that preserve thinking and memory later on.”

He included it was rare for those sorts of studies to be capable to account for prior capability.

“Factoring in peoples IQ at age 11 described about 51% of the variance in thinking capabilities in later life, but it did not account for all of the difference.

“That is, while it is real that people who have top cognitive capabilities are more likely to get more hard jobs, there still seems to be a little benefit gained from these hard jobs for later thinking skills.”

Dr Simon Ridley, UK research of Alzheimer, said the study added to growing proof about factors that the affect brain fitness as we aged.

“Keeping the brain perfect throughout life could be supportive and different kinds of work may play a role.

“Anyway, it is vital to note that this test points to a pretty and subtle link between profession and later-life cognition rather than providing proof that people’s occupation has an open influence.”