Examining the brains of 872 people who had been part of three large ageing studies, and who before their deaths had completed questionnaires about their education, the researchers found that more education makes people better able to cope with changes in the brain associated with dementia.
Over the past decade, studies on dementia have consistently showed that the more time you spend in education, the lower your risk of dementia. For each additional year of education there is an 11% decrease in risk of developing dementia, this study reports.
However, these studies have been unable to determine whether or not education – which is linked to higher socioeconomic status and healthier lifestyles – protects the brain against dementia.
This is not the case, the new study lead by Professor Carol Brayne of the University of Cambridge has found. Instead, the study shows people with different levels of education have similar brain pathology but that those with more education are better able to compensate for the effects of dementia.
According to co-author Dr Hannah Keage of the University of Cambridge: "Previous research has shown that there is not a one-to-one relationship between being diagnosed with dementia during life and changes seen in the brain at death. One person may show lots of pathology in their brain while another shows very little, yet both may have had dementia. Our study shows education in early life appears to enable some people to cope with a lot of changes in their brain before showing dementia symptoms."
Compared with previous research, this study was able to answer the question because of its large size and statistical power.
The researchers used data from the EClipSE collaboration, which combines the three European population-based longitudinal studies of ageing (the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study, the Cambridge City Over-75s Cohort Study and Vantaa 85+, a Finnish study).
The studies have assessed participants for up to 20 years and are three of only six such studies in the world.
The results have important implications for public health at a time when populations in many countries are ageing.
"Education is known to be good for population health and equity. This study provides strong support for investment in early life factors which should have an impact on society and the whole lifespan. This is hugely relevant to policy decisions about the importance of resource allocation between health and education," says Professor Brayne.
The results are published today in the journal Brain. The study was funded by the BUPA Foundation, the European Union and the Medical Research Council.For additional information, please contact:
Notes to editors:
1. The paper, Carol Brayne et al, 'Education, the brain and dementia: neuroprotection or compensation' is published in Brain on 26 July 2010.
2. Further details of EClipSE are available at www.eclipsestudy.eu.
3. Dementia is associated with impaired cognition and functional disability. Alzheimer's disease is one type of dementia but there are many others, including Vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.
4. More than 800,000 people in the UK suffer from some form of dementia. As the global population ages, the prevalence of dementia is set to rise over coming decades, placing increasing economic and social burdens on societies.
5. Developing prevention strategies is a European and worldwide health and economic priority. If the onset of dementia was delayed by two years in those aged over 50, there would be nearly two million fewer cases of dementia over the next 40 years in the USA, for example. This scale of disease reduction would dramatically decrease projected economic costs of dementia.
Becky Allen | EurekAlert!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences