The Role of Education
Cognitive reserve may be linked to a multitude of factors including genetics, early life health, education, experiences, and other health factors that are still unknown.
Studies have identified factors in early life that correlate with outcomes later in life, including the risk of Alzheimer's disease. This observational research, noted Dr. Richard Hodes, the director of the National Institute on Aging, suggests, for example, "that the number of years of early education, as well as the quality of education, may be protective factors associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease later in life." He called these and other observations "a strong argument for pursuing research, such as clinical trials, to test directly whether specific lifestyle interventions will affect risk for Alzheimer's disease in later years."
Study after study has associated education with protective factors. Scientists often quantify education in years of formal schooling, but it might be more accurate to refer to a cognitively challenging lifetime of work and engagement. This can be present regardless of occupation or level of formal education. Consider how mentally challenging it is to learn to play an instrument or even play a sport.
Crosswords and mind games have received a lot of attention as ways to stay mentally sharp, and even to reduce the risk of AD. Bennett suggests that the greatest benefit may come from many years of mental stimulation. "How much that's going to help if you start when you're eighty is not really clear, especially if you were not cognitively active your whole life. The earlier in life you start good cognitive health habits and the more you maintain them, the better off you will probably be over the long run."
Previous: Brain Efficiency
Next: Brain Building
Excerpted from THE ALZHEIMER'S PROJECT: MOMENTUM IN SCIENCE, published by Public Affairs, www.publicaffairsbooks.com.
In This Section
- Building Cognitive Reserve
- Brain Efficiency
- The Role of Education
- Brain Building
- Personality Factors and Social Networks
- Assessing the Potential Benefits of Exercise and Diet
- Exercise and the Brain
- Diet and the Brain
- Developing New Drug Treatments
- Drugs in Development
- Practical Challenges
Momentum in Science: The Supplementary Series
- Understanding and Attacking Alzheimer's 12 min
- How Far We Have Come in Alzheimer's Research 15 min
- Identifying Mild Cognitive Impairment 20 min
- The Role of Genetics in Alzheimer's 12 min
- Advances in Brain Imaging 11 min
- Looking Into the Future of Alzheimer's 6 min
- The Connection Between Insulin and Alzheimer's 21 min
- Inflammation, the Immune System, and Alzheimer's 29 min
- The Benefit of Diet and Exercise in Alzheimer's 16 min
- Cognitive Reserve: What the Religious Orders Study is Revealing about Alzheimer's 20 min
- Searching for an Alzheimer's Cure: The Story of Flurizan 30 min
- The Pulse of Drug Development 15 min
- The DeMoe Family: Early-Onset Alzheimer's Genetics 25 min
- The Nanney/Felts Family: Late-Onset Alzheimer's Genetics 20 min
- The Quest for Biomarkers 17 min
Video: Inside the Brain: Unraveling the Mystery of Alzheimer's Disease
This 4-minute captioned video shows the progression of Alzheimer's disease in the brain.
Inside the Brain: An Interactive Tour
The Brain Tour explains how the brain works and how Alzheimer's affects it.
Alzheimer's Disease: Unraveling the Mystery
This book explains what AD is, describes the main areas in which researchers are working, and highlights new approaches for helping families and friends care for people with AD.
- About The Scientists
Connect with Alzheimer's Research
Find out how you can participate in clinical trials or studies, find a research center, or get up-to-date information at 1-800-438-4380.
The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline provides reliable information and support to all those who need assistance. Call us toll-free anytime day or night at 1-800-272-3900.
- Create A Tribute
Honor someone you care about and share your stories by contributing to The Tribute Wall on Facebook.
The Alzheimer's Association message boards and chat rooms are your online communication forum. Share your thoughts and experiences, query your colleagues, and make new friends.
- Rapid advances in our knowledge about AD have led to the development of promising new drugs and treatment strategies. However, before these new strategies can be used in clinical practice, they must be shown to work in people. Advances in prevention and treatment are only possible thanks to volunteers who participate in clinical trials.
- Among those touched by Alzheimer's (excluding self), nearly one-third provide support as a friend or relative, another 3% provide support as a healthcare professional, and the remaining two-thirds provide no support to the person suffering from Alzheimer's. When support is provided, it most often entails emotional support, followed by care-giving support. While small in comparison, more than one person in ten is providing financial support. Read more.