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Mental Activity Will Not Keep Alzheimer’s Away

March 18, 2016

Keeping mentally active will help to protect against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, however, it doesn’t stave off Alzheimer’s disease according to new research at the Mayo Clinic. Participants from 70-89 years of age were separated in a recent study according to those that were highly educated with 14+ years of education and those who were not. Each person was given MRI and PET scans to look for biomarkers and weekly questionnaires about their physical and mental activities.

One distinctive genetic biomarker, APOe4, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease was found to actually inhibit the progression of the disease in the brain. Those people with the gene fared better if they were better educated and stayed physically and mentally active during mid-life. In people without the APOe4 gene, higher levels of academic achievement or more physical and and mental activity, there was a slow down of the brain metabolism, reductions in the volume of the hippocampus and worsening of amyloid plaques. Those with APOe4 genes developed amyloid plaques about five years later than their less educated counter parts. Participants were able to compensate for genetic risk if they were higher educated. The researchers learned there is not much you can do about the process of getting Alzheimer’s, but your genetics and education can help to put it off a bit longer than those that are not as educated or active.
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