Minneapolis — Gradual accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain is one of the hallmarks of dementia development. However, not everyone with the same amount of plaque develops the same thinking and memory problems. Recently, researchers at the American Neurological Association may have finally found the answer.
Their research found that a variety of lifelong lifestyle factors, such as clubbing, religious groups, participation in sports and artistic activities, promote a so-called “cognitive reserve” that acts as a buffer against cognitive decline and dementia. It turns out that it looks like it does. Education, occupation and reading skills up to age 26 also count towards this reserve.
According to the researchers, one of the biggest takeaways from this project is to never stop learning. This study found that continuing lifelong learning may help protect the brain. This was also true for those who scored poorly on cognitive tests in childhood. This is especially noteworthy. That’s because previous research has shown that people with low childhood scores are more likely to experience a sharp decline in cognitive function as they age.
“These results are exciting because our cognitive performance is influenced by many factors throughout our lifetime, and participating in an intellectually, socially and physically active lifestyle can lead to cognitive decline and It shows that it may help prevent dementia,” said study author Dr. Dorina Cadar of Brighton, Sussex Medical School, in a media release. “Building cognitive reserve may not have benefited from a rich childhood and may not have provided greater mental resilience until later in life due to poorer childhood cognitive ability.” It’s heartening to discover that the negative effects can be offset.”
To what extent does more engagement build the brain’s cognitive reserve?
The project involved 1,184 people born in England in 1946. Each person underwent a cognitive test when he was 8 years old and again when he reached the age of 69. The team then used the Cognitive Reserve Index to combine people’s level of education at age 26 with participation in age-appropriate leisure activities. Reading ability at age 53 was also assessed as a measure of overall lifelong learning and considered separate from education and occupation.
The maximum score on cognitive tests completed by participants at age 69 was 100. The average score was 92 (lowest score: 53, highest score: 100).
Higher cognitive performance in childhood, a higher cognitive reserve index, and better reading ability were all associated with higher scores on cognitive tests by age 69. On average, each unit increase in childhood test scores was associated with a 0.10 point increase in geriatric cognitive test scores. On the other hand, each unit increase in cognitive reserve index increased cognitive score by an average of 0.07 points, and each unit increase in reading ability increased cognitive score by an average of 0.22 points.
On average, those with a bachelor’s degree or other higher education qualification scored 1.22 points more than those without formal education. Those who participated in 6 or more leisure activities (adult education classes, clubs, volunteer work, social activities, gardening) scored 1.53 points higher on average than those who participated in only up to 4 leisure activities. rice field. With respect to occupation, those in professional or intermediate occupations scored 1.5 points more on average than those in occupations considered partially skilled or unskilled. did.
Slower decline of better readers
In addition, participants with higher cognitive reserve index and reading skills tended to decline slower in cognitive scores than those with lower scores, regardless of their childhood test scores.
“From a public health and social perspective, there are broad and long-term implications for investing in higher education, expanding opportunities for leisure activities, and providing cognitively challenging activities to people, especially those working in less skilled occupations. There could be significant benefits,” adds Michal Schnaider Beeri. , Ph.D., from the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai, New York, wrote an editorial that accompanied the study.
The study authors note that the project had certain limitations. For example, participants who participated in this study by age 69 were more likely to be healthier, have better overall thinking skills, and have social advantages than those who did not participate in the project. , these findings may not reflect the general population.
The research is published in the journal Neurology.