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Staying Mentally Active May Reduce Risk Of Alzheimer's And Other Dementias
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Staying Mentally Active May Reduce Risk Of Alzheimer\'s And Other Dementias

A study that has been published in the Journal of American Medical Association Archives of Neurology has confirmed what doctors have been saying for many years: staying mentally active during the entire lifetime cuts down on the accumulation of a certain type of protein that can form the brain clogging amyloid plague that contributes to dementia and other memory destroying diseases, including Alzheimer's. People who engage in activities that include reading, writing and playing brain stimulating games are less likely to have these problems than those who do less mentally stimulating hobbies.

The study, performed with a small group of adults is different according to the researchers because it was the first of its kind to use PET scans as part of the diagnosis process. The team, led by Susan Landau, of the UC Berkeley Helen Willis Neuroscience Institute, used a small group that included healthy adults, people who had previously been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and a younger group that served as the "control" group. Sixty five healthy adults, all age fifty or older and eleven younger control subjects, ages 20-30 took part in the study as well as eleven Alzheimer's patients, all recruited from the Memory and Aging Center at UCSF.

During the study, the participants were asked to complete a number of mental tests and then interviewed about a number of different activities that they engaged in on a regular basis. In addition, they were asked to describe how often they did these things, how much time they spent on each and other details.

Landau cautioned that while the testing that was done was crucial to understanding the amyloid plague growth process and how it affected mental function, especially in older adults it was not the type of testing that could be translated to the average doctor or hospital setting. To get the detailed brain scans that were needed, a chemist must mix a number of chemicals that must be administered immediately or they become ineffective and unstable.

Still, the research found that while many people with increased amyloid deposits were at higher risk for dementia spectrum conditions, others that had some of the plague present in their brain had no impairment at all. In most cases, it is those people who hae the plague but are engaged in mentally stimulating hobbies that are less likely to develop memory impairing conditions, including Alzheimer's disease and others. Other studies are slated to look at how a combination of physical and mental exercise might help with the prevention of this plague.


Street Talk

Ah, you only have to read a book or watch Jeopardy... not that big of a deal, right?

Reply
  about 9 years ago
Kyle  

Oh great...now we have to exercise our brains too!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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