Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Use your brain, halve your risk of dementia


Research from UNSW provides the most convincing evidence to date that complex mental activity across people’s lives significantly reduces the risk of dementia. The researchers found that such activity almost halves the incidence of dementia.

The paper, which has just been published in Psychological Medicine, is the first comprehensive review of the research in the field of ’brain reserve’, which looks at the role of education, occupational complexity and mentally stimulating lifestyle pursuits in preventing cognitive decline. The paper integrates data from 29,000 individuals across 22 studies from around the world.

"Until now there have been mixed messages about the role of education, occupation, IQ and mentally stimulating leisure activities, in preventing cognitive decline. Now the results are much clearer," said the lead author, Dr Michael Valenzuela, from the School of Psychiatry at UNSW. "It is a case of ’use it or lose it’. If you increase your brain reserve over your lifetime, you seem to lessen the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases."

The key conclusion is that individuals with high brain reserve have a 46 percent decreased risk of dementia, compared to those with low brain reserve. All the studies assessed agreed that mentally stimulating leisure activities, even in late life, are associated with a protective effect.

"This suggests that brain reserve is not a static property, nor that it is determined by early life experiences such as level of education, socio-economic deprivation or poor nutrition," said Dr Valenzuela. "It is never too late to build brain reserve."

Dr Valenzuela’s previous research showed that after five weeks of memory-based mental exercise, participants increased brain chemistry markers in the opposite direction to that seen in Alzheimer’s disease. "The interesting point here is that this change was concentrated to the hippocampus, a part of the brain first affected in dementia," said Dr Valenzuela.

This is consistent with studies of brain reserve in mice, where some of the animals were ’hothoused’ in stimulating environments. These mice had changes in the microstructure of their brains, compared with the controls.

"We now need a clinical trial to improve our neurobiological understanding of the brain-reserve effect in humans," said Dr Valenzuela. "Perhaps this could be based around mentally stimulating leisure activities that are fun."

The co-author of the paper is Professor Permider Sachdev, also from the School of Psychiatry at UNSW, who is based at The Neuropsychiatric Institute at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

Contact details: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media unit, tel. 9385 1583 or 0422 934 024

Susi Hamilton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

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...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>