A new study published in the Archives of Neurology on January 23 reported a strong association between cognitive activity and beta-amyloid deposits in the brain. Beta-amyloid is the protein that destroys brain tissue in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Study researchers from the University of California in Berkley found that cognitive activity throughout a person’s early and middle life had a direct impact on the degree of beta-amyloid deposits. The more cognitive activity, the fewer deposits. The kinds of cognitive activity reported in this paper are well within the reach of everyone, such as reading, writing (including writing letters and emails), going to the library, and playing games. Although genetics certainly plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, working your brain to slow or prevent its development is an option for everyone. And it’s free!
Previous research, including the Nun Study, which I wrote about in Just Think, has demonstrated an association between cognitive activity and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, but this is the first study to identify a physical explanation for what is happening in the brain as a result of cognitive activity.
In an interview with Science Daily, one of the paper’s authors, William Jagust, MD, said, "There is no downside to cognitive activity. It can only be beneficial, even if for reasons other than reducing amyloid in the brain, including social stimulation and empowerment....And actually, cognitive activity late in life may well turn out to be beneficial for reducing amyloid. We just haven't found that connection yet."