Given the growing media coverage mentioning the terms Cognitive Reserve and Brain Reserve, you may be asking yourself, “What exactly is my Cognitive (or Brain) Reserve?”
The cognitive reserve hypothesis, tested in multiple studies, states that individuals with more cognitive reserve can experience more Alzheimer’s disease pathology in the brain (more plaques and tangles) without developing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
How does that work? Scientists are not sure but two possibilities are considered.
1. One is that more cognitive reserve means more brain reserve, that is more neurons and connections (synapses) between neurons. Individuals with more synapses would then have more synapses to lose before the critical threshold for Alzheimer’s Disease is reached.
2. Another possibility is that more cognitive reserve means more compensatory processes. The brain of individuals with more cognitive reserve would use more alternative networks to compensate for the damages caused by the pathology in previously used networks.
In a newly published study, Roe and colleagues from Washington University in St. Louis, used the number of years of education as a measure of cognitive reserve. Why years of education? Because previous studies have shown that people who have more education also exhibit a greater resistance to Alzheimer’s symptoms, even while pathological changes are occurring in the brain (see Bennett el al., 2003 or Roe, Xiong, et al., 2008).
Roe and her colleagues studied 198 individuals whose mean age was 67. Out of these 198 individuals, 161 were nondemented and 37 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
All the participants in the study took a [Read more…] about Education builds Cognitive Reserve for Alzheimers Disease Protection