Minerva

Cognitive reserves for later life and other stories . . .

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4619 (Published 23 July 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4619

Most doctors use their brains a lot, and this may have benefits beyond their working years, by slowing down cognitive ageing. A longitudinal cohort study from the Rush Memory and Aging project in Neurology (2013, doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e31829c5e8a) supports the hypothesis that lifelong cognitive activity builds up a reserve which protects against cognitive decline in later life, despite the effect of common neuropathological conditions. The researchers say: “Participants (n=294) rated early- and late-life participation in cognitive activities, completed annual cognitive testing (mean 5.8 years), died, and underwent a uniform neuropathologic examination from which measures of 5 common lesions were derived . . . After adjustment for plaques, tangles, infarcts, and Lewy bodies, higher levels of cognitive activity in childhood, middle age, and old age were associated with slower rate of cognitive decline, together accounting for nearly 15% of variability in cognitive decline not attributable to neuropathologic burden.”

Minerva often marvels at the clumsiness of medical labels, and is pleased to see respiratory physicians in Thorax (2013, doi: …

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