Posted on Aug 03, 2010, 6 a.m.
More education appears to improve the ability to cope with changes in the brain associated with dementia.
Previous studies have suggested that people who stay in education longer have a lower risk of developing dementia, but the causal connection has remained elusive. Carol Brayne, from the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), and colleagues examined the brains of 872 people who had been part of three large-scale ageing studies, and who before their deaths had completed questionnaires about their education. The team found that more education appeared to improve the ability to cope with changes in the brain associated with dementia. Explaining that: “More education did not protect individuals from developing neurodegenerative and vascular neuropathology by the time they died but it did appear to mitigate the impact of pathology on the clinical expression of dementia before death,” the researchers propose that their findings “suggest that an understanding of the mechanisms leading to functional protection in the presence of pathology may be of considerable value to society.”
Carol Brayne, Paul G. Ince, Hannah A. D. Keage, Ian G. McKeith, Fiona E. Matthews, Tuomo Polvikoski, Raimo Sulkava. “Education, the brain and dementia: neuroprotection or compensation?” Brain, August 2010; 133: 2210 - 2216.