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'Cognitive Reserve' May Help Fight Alzheimer's
Date:11/11/2008

imer's] pathology without having dementia symptoms," Roe said.

It's hard to say whether people can do anything to increase their cognitive reserve, said Yaakov Stern, professor of clinical neuropsychology at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease at Columbia University and an originator of the cognitive reserve hypothesis.

Stern has taken part in several studies similar to the one now being reported, measuring blood flow to various parts of the brain as an indicator of Alzheimer's pathology. Those studies also showed that people with greater cognitive reserve "are walking around with more pathology than they exhibit," he said.

Whether people can consciously increase their cognitive reserve "is the big question," Stern said. "I am more and more convinced from studies like this that there are aspects of life experience that allow people to cope with Alzheimer's pathology better."

Any activities in particular? "We really don't know the recipe of what activity and how much would work," Stern said. "We really need controlled studies."

But, as a general rule, he said, "It doesn't hurt to remain active, physically as well as mentally. It's just that there are no studies to show that these activities really make a difference."

More information

To learn more about Alzheimer's disease, visit the U.S. National Institute on Aging.



SOURCES: Catherine M. Roe, Ph.D., research instructor in neurology, Washington University, St. Louis; Yaakov Stern, Ph.D., professor of clinical neuropsychology at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease, Columbia University, New York City; November 2008, Archives of Neurology


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