Harvard Medical School researchers studied the brains of people who died in the 1960s and 1970s, compared to those over 100 years old.
The study, published in the journal Nature found that people who died at an earlier age had lower levels of the protein REST (RE-1 Silencing Transcription)
. This protein helps to calm the brain activity.
Over 100 people had more of this protein, which is said to respond to genes known to stimulate the brain to think.
Previous studies have also found that REST can help protect against Alzheimer's disease.
Bruce Yankner said in a statement that the data "could have far-reaching consequences on physiology and lifespan."
Currently it is not possible to measure REST in a living brain.
To test their results In human brains, the Harvard team works with us Worms and mice multiply and diminish their brain activity.
They found the same results. Creatures that had no REST in their brain tissue died very fast.
"The totally shocking and puzzling thing about this new article is … brain activity is what you think to keep you cognitively normal. There's the idea that you want to keep your brain active in a later life, "said neuroscientist Michael McConnell about Science Alert.
Despite the widespread perception of keeping your brain active to stay healthy, some people may opt for this new study, rather than thinking about it.