Study sees less damage from brain plaques in those with more education
TUESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A study using an advanced brain scanning technology supports the growing body of evidence that education levels and some form of intellectual activity decrease the impact of Alzheimer's disease.
People with a greater "cognitive reserve" suffer less damage from the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are a leading marker of Alzheimer's disease, according to the study in the November issue of the Archives of Neurology.
Cognitive reserve is the concept that "the way that some people process information, the brain networks they use, allows them to cope better," said study author Catherine M. Roe, a research instructor in neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.
The study used education levels as a yardstick of cognitive reserve, a customary practice in Alzheimer's studies, Roe said.
The researchers employed positron emission tomography (PET) scans to study the brains of 37 people with Alzheimer's-type dementia and 161 people with no dementia. All were injected with a radio-carbon-labeled compound that attaches itself to amyloid plaques, allowing the researchers to determine the size of those plaques in the brains of the participants. All the participants also took tests to measure their thinking ability.
"We divided the individuals into two groups, those with high uptake of the compound, indicating more plaques in the brain and those with low uptake, indicating few or no plaques," Roe said. "For people with low uptake, there was no relation to education in their cognitive scores. For high uptake, meaning significant plaques in the brain, we found an association with education. The more education they had, the fewer the symptoms of dementia."
So having a greater cognitive reserve, as measured by educational level, "may help you cope with that [Alzhe
All rights reserved