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Friday, October 25, 2013

An Active Brain Throughout Life Slows Cognitive Decline

Higher levels of cognitive activity in childhood, middle age, and old age were associated with slower rate of cognitive decline, after controlling for disease pathology on brain autopsy, a new study has shown.
Lead author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, told Medscape Medical News that it has been fairly well established that reduced cognitive activity is associated with an increased rate of cognitive decline, but what has not been known is which comes first.
"This basic association has been out there for several years, but it has been suggested that the reduced cognitive activity could be just a sign of disease pathology. So if you're developing Alzheimer's, you will be less likely to engage in cognitive activities. But in our study, we have actually controlled for disease pathology, and we still see a strong association, so that blows that theory out of the water," he said
"We have proved for the first time that increased cognitive activity has an association with reduced cognitive decline independent of cognitive-related pathology. I think it is likely to be causal, but as this is an observational study, we can't make that leap definitely. But as it is virtually impossible to conduct a prospective, randomized clinical trial of a lifestyle factor such as cognitive activity, we have to look at observational studies for this information," Dr. Wilson added.
"Our results suggest that it is a good idea to start doing some sort of cognitive activity every day if you're not already doing it."

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