Friday, September 16, 2005

Educating the Brain to Avoid Alzheimers?

Clinicians and researchers are aware that education is associated with less age-related decline, but the big questions is whether education or training could be protective. There is an idea that more highly educated people have more 'cognitive reserve' that allows them the withstand the assaults of age or Alzheimer's disease.

The second study below may generate more questions than answers, but there are some interesting points worth mentioning. Education seemed to help both young and old subjects with remembering test stimuli if they also translated in what they saw into words (think about the computer- 'text' takes up less memory space than pictures).

The second study made a somewhat puzzling observation that the beneficial effects of education seem to activate different parts of the brain depending on age. One interesting speculation we might offer up based on their data is that as educated older adults lost some recognition memory (it happened to less well educated older adults as well), they shifted their reserves to the right temporal lobe, and became more pattern-oriented or intuitive, when exact retrieval couldn't be used.

Mental Training to Escape Dementia?
Effects of Education on Brain Activity of Young and Older Adults"

No comments:

Post a Comment