Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain scans demonstrate link between education and Alzheimer's

12.11.2008
A test that reveals brain changes believed to be at the heart of Alzheimer's disease has bolstered the theory that education can delay the onset of the dementia and cognitive decline that are characteristic of the disorder.

Scientists at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that some study participants who appeared to have the brain plaques long associated with Alzheimer's disease still received high scores on tests of their cognitive ability. Participants who did well on the tests were likely to have spent more years in school.

"The good news is that 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," says first author Catherine Roe, Ph.D., research instructor in neurology.

The findings are published in the November Archives of Neurology.

Roe and her colleagues at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center used the study participants' education levels to approximate a theoretical quality called cognitive reserve: improved abilities in thinking, learning and memory that result from regularly challenging and making use of the brain. Neurologists have long speculated that this quality, roughly equivalent to the benefits that accrue in the body via regular physical exercise, can help the brain cope with the damage caused by Alzheimer's disease.

Doctors still cannot conclusively diagnose Alzheimer's disease in any manner other than post-mortem brain examination. But Washington University scientists have shown that an imaging agent for positron emission tomography scans, Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB), can reveal the presence of amyloid plaques, a key brain change that many neurologists suspect either causes Alzheimer's or is closely linked to its onset.

"This technique has been used before to analyze patients with dementia and their education levels, but our study is among the first, if not the first, to include both patients with Alzheimer's-type dementia and nondemented participants," says Roe.

In addition to scanning the participants' brains with PIB, the participants took several tests that assessed their cognitive abilities and status. They also ranked their educational experience: high-school degree or less, college experience up to an undergraduate degree, and graduate schooling.

As expected, those whose brains showed little evidence of plaque buildup scored high on all the tests. But while most participants with high levels of brain plaque scored poorly on the tests, those who had done postgraduate work still scored well. Despite signs that Alzheimer's might already be ravaging the brains of this subgroup, their cognitive abilities had not declined and they had not become demented.

Roe and her colleagues plan follow-up studies that will look at other potential indicators of increased cognitive reserve, including hobbies, social and intellectual activities and the mental challenges provided by professional duties.

Roe CM, Mintun MA, D'Angelo G, Xiong C, Grant EA, Morris JC. Alzheimer's disease and cognitive reserve. Archives of Neurology 2008;65[11]:1467-1471.

Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Michael C. Purdy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Improving memory with magnets
28.03.2017 | McGill University

nachricht Graphene-based neural probes probe brain activity in high resolution
28.03.2017 | Graphene Flagship

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>