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Factors that protect against cognitive decline

A new discovery affects the existence of people who, despite having amyloid plaques related to Alzheimer’s disease in the brain, do not show symptoms of the condition, while others with the same number of plaques have cognitive and memory problems. The results of the study are published in the journal Neurology.

To reach the conclusion, the researchers examined genetic and life cycle factors that can help establish a “cognitive reserve” that serves as a buffer against the disease. Thus they found that the activities carried out during people’s lives lead to a notable protection against cognitive decline.

Social life, employment, engaging in activities when you reach a certain age, reading and writing, offer a positive impact on the cognitive reserve of the brain. According to research, learning new things throughout life can help protect the brain, especially for those who performed worse on cognitive tests as children. Previous research has indicated that people with low scores in childhood are more likely to suffer greater cognitive decline in old age than people with high scores.

About the investigation

Dorina Cadar, director of the study, said: “These results are exciting because they indicate that cognitive ability is subject to factors throughout our lives and participating in an intellectually, socially and physically active lifestyle may help prevent cognitive decline and dementia. “It is encouraging to discover that developing one’s cognitive reserve can offset the negative influence of low childhood cognition for people who might not have benefited from a rich childhood and offer greater mental resilience until later in life.”

The researchers found that higher childhood cognitive abilities, with a significant cognitive reserve index and also high reading ability, were associated with higher scores on the cognitive test taken at age 69. The test score increased by 0.10 points on average. For each unit increase in the cognitive reserve index, cognitive scores increased on average 0.07 points, and for each unit increase in reading ability, cognitive scores increased on average 0.22 points.

Michal Schnaider Beeri, Ph.D., of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, has said: “From a social and public health perspective, there can be broad long-term benefits to investing in higher education, expanding opportunities for leisure activities, and providing challenging cognitive activities for people, especially for those who work in less qualified occupations.”


It is not the only study carried out on the subject. In all of them, similar conclusions have been reached when evaluating the activities carried out by people during their lives. One aspect that must be taken into account is that social relationships should never be neglected, especially when one reaches retirement, over 65 years of age.

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