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Study: Building cognitive reserve helps delay memory and thinking decline regardless of genetic or childhood markers

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Source: UAB researcher David Vance

Build­ing cog­ni­tive reserve could pro­tect against mem­o­ry and think­ing decline, even with low child­hood cog­ni­tion scores (Alzheimer’s Research UK):

New research sug­gests that peo­ple who devel­op high ‘cog­ni­tive reserve’ by the time they reach 69 years old may reduce their like­li­hood of mem­o­ry and think­ing decline, even with low child­hood cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. The study was pub­lished today in Neu­rol­o­gy, the med­ical jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Neurology.

Wors­en­ing mem­o­ry and think­ing abil­i­ties are com­mon in peo­ple liv­ing with demen­tia, which is caused by phys­i­cal dis­eases in the brain that dam­age nerve cells and the con­nec­tions between them. Some peo­ple seem to be more resilient to this dam­age than oth­ers. This resilience is known as cog­ni­tive reserve and research sug­gests that edu­ca­tion, men­tal stim­u­la­tion and healthy liv­ing could help to boost it.…

The par­tic­i­pants were part of the 1946 birth cohort, the old­est British birth cohort where peo­ple were mon­i­tored through­out their lives. This is the same cohort behind the Insight 46 study, fund­ed by Alzheimer’s Research UK … The team had access to the par­tic­i­pants’ child­hood cog­ni­tive test scores as well as their edu­ca­tion­al and occu­pa­tion­al his­to­ry. They also knew the par­tic­i­pants’ lifestyle habits, hob­bies, and leisure activities.

While our child­hood can influ­ence our mem­o­ry and think­ing skills lat­er in life, this research under­lines the mes­sage that it’s nev­er too late to take action to sup­port cog­ni­tive health.” — Dr Sara Imari­sio, Head of Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives at Alzheimer’s Research UK

The Study:

Mod­er­at­ing Role of Cog­ni­tive Reserve Mark­ers Between Child­hood Cog­ni­tion and Cog­ni­tive Age­ing: Evi­dence From the 1946 UK Birth Cohort (Neu­rol­o­gy):

  • Back­ground and objec­tives: As the pop­u­la­tion ages, dif­fer­ences in cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties become more evi­dent. We inves­ti­gat­ed key genet­ic and life course influ­ences on cog­ni­tive state at age 69, build­ing on pre­vi­ous work using the lon­gi­tu­di­nal MRC Nation­al Sur­vey of Health and Devel­op­ment (the British 1946 birth cohort).
  • Meth­ods: Mul­ti­vari­able regres­sions inves­ti­gat­ed the asso­ci­a­tion between four fac­tors :(1) child­hood cog­ni­tion at age 8; (2) a cog­ni­tive reserve index (CRI) com­posed of 3 mark­ers: i. edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment by age 26, ii. engage­ment in leisure activ­i­ties at age 43, and iii. occu­pa­tion up to age 53; (3) read­ing abil­i­ty assessed by the Nation­al Adult Read­ing Test (NART) at age 53 and (4) APOE geno­type in rela­tion to cog­ni­tive state mea­sured at age 69 with Addenbrooke’s Cog­ni­tive Exam­i­na­tion third edi­tion (ACE-III). We then inves­ti­gat­ed the mod­i­fy­ing role of the CRI, NART, and APOE in the asso­ci­a­tion between child­hood cog­ni­tion and the ACE-III.
  • Results: The ana­lyt­i­cal sam­ple was com­prised of 1,184 par­tic­i­pants. High­er scores in child­hood cog­ni­tion, CRI and NART were asso­ci­at­ed with high­er scores in the ACE-III. We found that the CRI and NART mod­i­fied the asso­ci­a­tion between child­hood cog­ni­tion and the ACE-III: for 30 addi­tion­al points in the CRI or 20 addi­tion­al points in the NART, the sim­ple slope of child­hood cog­ni­tion decreased by approx­i­mate­ly 0.10 points … The asso­ci­a­tion between child­hood cog­ni­tion and the ACE-III was non-sig­nif­i­cant at high lev­els of the CRI or NART. Fur­ther­more, the e4 allele of the APOE gene was asso­ci­at­ed with low­er scores in the ACE-III (ß=-0.71, 95% CI ‑1.36 to ‑0.06, p=0.03) but did not mod­i­fy the asso­ci­a­tion between child­hood cog­ni­tion and cog­ni­tive state in lat­er life.
  • Con­clu­sion: The CRI and NART are inde­pen­dent mea­sures of cog­ni­tive reserve since both mod­i­fy the asso­ci­a­tion between child­hood cog­ni­tion and cog­ni­tive state.

The Study in Context:





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