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Lifelong cognitive exercise may ward off Alzheimer’s protein beta amyloid

Very sig­nif­i­cant find­ings reported today. Keep­ing brain sharp may ward off Alzheimer’s pro­tein (Reuters):

Peo­ple who chal­lenge their brains through­out their life­times — through read­ing, writ­ing and play­ing games — are less likely to develop pro­tein deposits in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s, researchers said on Monday.”

Prior stud­ies have sug­gested that peo­ple who are well edu­cated and stay men­tally active build up brain reserves that allow them to stay sharp even if deposits of the destruc­tive pro­tein called beta amy­loid form in the brain.”

But the lat­est study, based on brain-imaging research, sug­gests that peo­ple who stay men­tally engaged begin­ning in child­hood and remain so through­out their lives actu­ally develop fewer amy­loid plaques.” (Editor’s note: empha­sis added)

She said amy­loid prob­a­bly starts accu­mu­lat­ing many years before symp­toms appear, so by the time mem­ory prob­lems start, there is lit­tle that can be done. “The time for inter­ven­tion may be much sooner,” she said in a statement.”

Pic source: Amer­i­can Health Assis­tance Foundation.

Study: Asso­ci­a­tion of Life­time Cog­ni­tive Engage­ment and Low β-Amyloid Depo­si­tion (Archives of Neurology)

  • Main Out­come Mea­sures  Cor­ti­cal [11C]PiB aver­age (frontal, pari­etal, lat­eral tem­po­ral, and cin­gu­late regions) and ret­ro­spec­tive, self-report scales assess­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in cog­ni­tive activ­i­ties (eg, read­ing, writ­ing, and play­ing games) and phys­i­cal exercise.
  • Results  Greater par­tic­i­pa­tion in cog­ni­tively stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties across the lifes­pan, but par­tic­u­larly in early and mid­dle life, was asso­ci­ated with reduced [11C]PiB uptake (P < .001, account­ing for age, sex, and years of edu­ca­tion). Older par­tic­i­pants in the high­est cog­ni­tive activ­ity ter­tile had [11C]PiB uptake com­pa­ra­ble to young con­trols, whereas those in the low­est cog­ni­tive activ­ity ter­tile had [11C]PiB uptake com­pa­ra­ble to patients with AD. Although greater cog­ni­tive activ­ity was asso­ci­ated with greater phys­i­cal exer­cise, exer­cise was not asso­ci­ated with [11C]PiB uptake.
  • Con­clu­sions  Indi­vid­u­als with greater early– and mid­dle– life cog­ni­tive activ­ity had lower [11C]PiB uptake. The ten­dency to par­tic­i­pate in cog­ni­tively stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties is likely related to engage­ment in a vari­ety of lifestyle prac­tices that have been impli­cated in other stud­ies show­ing reduced risk of AD-related pathol­ogy. We report a direct asso­ci­a­tion between cog­ni­tive activ­ity and [11C]PiB uptake, sug­gest­ing that lifestyle fac­tors found in indi­vid­u­als with high cog­ni­tive engage­ment may pre­vent or slow depo­si­tion of β-amyloid, per­haps influ­enc­ing the onset and pro­gres­sion of AD.

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