I feel like I’ve read this before, but the more info we have about this disease the better, right? According to a new study that came out this month in the Archives of Neurology, “People with a greater ‘cognitive reserve’ suffer less damage from the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are a leading marker of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study’s author, Catherine M. Roe, a research instructor in neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, said that “the way that some people process information, the brain networks they use, allows them to cope better.”
Translation: the more education you have, the less likely you are to experience symptoms of dementia, IF (big IF) you already have a significant amount of plaque in your brain. Education, however, did not affect those individuals (lucky bastards) with little or no plaque.
So what can you do to better your odds besides playing Soduku? The pros aren’t completely sure:
It’s hard to say whether people can do anything to increase their cognitive reserve, said Yaakov Stern, professor of clinical neuropsychology at the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease at Columbia University and an originator of the cognitive reserve hypothesis.
Whether people can consciously increase their cognitive reserve “is the big question,” Stern said. “I am more and more convinced from studies like this that there are aspects of life experience that allow people to cope with Alzheimer’s pathology better.”
Totally not helpful, but Stern did say to keep active both mentally and physically. And take if from me, I’ve found one of the best ways to cope with my demented mom is to run. Often. Daily if possible.
Speaking of… anyone up for a 5K?
As for the mental part, I’ve memorized the names of all of the Jolie-Pitt children—in birth order. Bam.