Puzzle Habit ‘Staves Off Dementia’
Scientists in the US who looked at 65 health elderly people, whose average age was 76, found those who did so tended to lower amounts of a destructive protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease, than those who were less mentally active.
The researchers at the University of California’s Berkeley campus found they had less beta-amyloid, which are thought to cause Alzheimer’s when they accumulate in sufficient quantities to fold into tangles plaques.
Using brain scans, they compared the levels of amyloid plaques in the 65 volunteers, with 11 people in their 20s.
Dr William Jagust, a professor at Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, and the principal investigator on the study, said: “This suggests that cognitive therapies could have significant disease-modifying treatment benefits if applied early enough, before symptoms appear.”
The study was published on Monday in the Archives of Neurology.
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, urged caution in leaping to conclusions, however.
He said: “Whilst the study found an association between cognitive activity and the levels of amyloid protein in the brain of healthy elderly volunteers, we cannot conclude that one directly causes the other.
“It would be important to follow these healthy participants and see whether those that reported higher cognitive activity were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s in the long run.
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