“Many people with MS struggle with learning and memory problems. This study shows that a mentally active lifestyle might reduce the harmful effects of brain damage on learning and memory. That is, learning and memory ability remained quite good in people with enriching lifestyles, even if they had a lot of brain damage (brain atrophy on brain scans). In contrast, persons with lesser mentally active lifestyles were more likely to suffer learning and memory problems, even at milder levels of brain damage,” said study author James Sumowski, PhD, with the Kessler Foundation Research Center in West Orange, New Jersey.
The study involved 44 people around the age of 45 who had MS for an average of 11 years. The study authors measured lifetime enrichment with word knowledge, typically acquired through activities that involve reading and education.
The study found that those with a mentally active lifestyle had good scores on the tests of learning and memory even if they had higher amounts of brain damage. For example, on a test of verbal learning and memory, participants were given up to 15 tries to learn a list of 10 words, and were then asked to recall the list after 30 minutes. Among people with mentally active lifestyles, learning and recall was similar in those with lower and higher amounts of brain damage (recall decline of about one percent: 9.6 words to 9.5 words).
In contrast, among persons with less intellectually enriching lifestyles, learning was slower and recall was lower after 30 minutes among those with higher amounts of brain damage compared to those with lower amounts of damage (recall decline of about 16 percent: 9.6 words to 8.0 words).
“The findings suggest that enriching activities may build a person’s ‘cognitive reserve,’ which can be thought of as a buffer against disease-related memory impairment. Differences in cognitive reserve among persons with MS may explain why some persons suffer memory problems early in the disease, while others do not develop memory problems until much later, if at all,” said Sumowski.
“These results open up a whole new area of inquiry in MS that could have a significant impact,” said Peter A. Arnett, PhD, of Penn State University in University Park, Pa., who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. “There’s the potential that people could improve their cognitive reserve to reduce or prevent cognitive problems later.”
Arnett said the possibility is particularly appealing because people typically live with MS for many years, and cognitive problems are common. “More research is needed before any firm recommendations can be made, but it seems reasonable to encourage people with MS to get involved in activities that might improve their cognitive reserve, such as mentally stimulating activities like crossword puzzles and word games, regular exercise, and social relationships.”
“These findings are similar to research on cognitive reserve in aging and Alzheimer’s disease,” Sumowski said. “Studies on aging have also shown that engagement in specific cognitive leisure activities, such as reading books or playing games, also protects against the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. More research is needed to investigate the contribution of specific leisure activities to cognitive reserve in people with MS.”
The study was supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Institutes of Health.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 22,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, restless legs syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, narcolepsy and stroke.
Rachel L. Seroka | American Academy of Neurology
Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences