Intended for healthcare professionals


Cognitive stimulation at work and dementia

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 19 August 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1973

Linked Research

Cognitive stimulation in the workplace, plasma proteins, and risk of dementia

  1. Serhiy Dekhtyar, assistant professor
  1. Aging Research Center, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. serhiy.dekhtyar{at}

Innovative study finds a clear link between stimulating work and lower risk

Dementia, a devastating condition that affects nearly 50 million people worldwide, is not an inevitable part of ageing.1 It is now widely accepted that the prevention of dementia is achievable, owing to risk reductions associated with lifelong control of cardiovascular risk factors, engagement in physical activity, or prolonged education.2 The seemingly consistent protection afforded by education, although far from being fully understood,3 likely involves the beneficial impact of cognitive stimulation on the build-up of neurons, synapses, and the enrichment of reserve—the brain’s ability to withstand damage that would otherwise lead to dementia.4

In light of these hypothesised benefits, many researchers have sought to examine mental enrichment beyond schooling. Occupational based cognitive stimulation has deservedly received much interest, given the prolonged exposure to work environments throughout the life course.5 Despite considerable previous research, however, the role of work related mental enrichment in dementia has remained unclear, owing to the small size of study populations, mostly originating from northern Europe.67 Notably, the biological pathways …

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