Mental Stimulation Might Cut Dementia Risk

7 February, 2012 at 06:28 | Posted in Body & Mind | 1 Comment
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Keeping sharp could reduce brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s

VOA News

People who engage in mentally stimulating activities over a lifetime have lower levels of a protein in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a new study finds.

That supports other research which suggests reading, writing, and playing games may lower the risk of dementia.

Researchers worked with a group of 65 older-adult volunteers with no symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The more cognitively active you can be over the course of your lifespan, the better.
— Susan Landau, research scientist

They answered questions about how often they engaged in stimulating mental activities throughout their lifetimes.

They also got positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans which can identify beta-amyloid deposits. Those deposits are found in the brains of people who have Alzheimer’s.

University of California–Berkeley research scientist Susan Landau says the study showed a link between the quantity of deposits and the lifetime level of brain stimulation.

“People who were the most cognitively active throughout their life, they had the least amyloid in their brains,” she says.

“Based on this association between greater cognitive activity and less amyloid, we think that these people will go on to have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Keep in mind that the people in this study, many of them in their 70s and 80s, did not show any symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Scientists are still trying to understand the connection between beta-amyloid deposits in the brain and dementia.

Aging and a family history of Alzheimer’s are both considered risk factors, but those are factors we can’t control.

And even if your brain hasn’t been particularly active up until now, Landau says it’s not too late to start ratcheting up your mental activities.

“I think that cognitive stimulation is probably beneficial at any age. But, what our findings from this study show, is that the more cognitively active you can be over the course of your lifespan, the better.”

Read more: Mental Stimulation Might Cut Dementia Risk | Western Medicine | Health | Epoch Times

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  1. “We’re not talking about the brain’s response to amyloid. We’re talking about the actual accumulation of amyloid,” Dr. William Jagust of the University of California, Berkeley, whose study appears in the Archives of Neurology, said in an interview. “It’s a brand new finding.”


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