Education protects against dementia
NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 1, 2008
Patients with biological signs of Alzheimer's may maintain cognition if they have had postgraduate education, according to a study in the November Archives of Neurology.
"Greater education may allow people to harbor amyloid plaques and other brain pathology linked to Alzheimer's disease without experiencing decline of their cognitive abilities," said Catherine Roe, PhD, lead author and a research instructor in neurology at Washington University in St. Louis.
Researchers assessed the fibrillar brain amyloid levels in 161 elderly patients without dementia and 37 with Alzheimer's disease. Participants had their cognitive ability assessed with the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Short Blessed Test, along with other psychometric tools. Educational levels were correlated with the results. Those positive for amyloid who completed schooling beyond the undergraduate level were better able to complete tests of cognitive function than were those with less education. The authors say this finding supports the hypothesis that a "cognitive reserve" is protective against Alzheimer's.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2008/12/01/hlbf1201.htm.