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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 ?-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 ?-amy­loid, per­haps influ­enc­ing the onset and pro­gres­sion of AD.

Relat­ed resources to learn more:

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