Higher education may be protective against MS-associated cognitive impairment

09/2013

Cognitive decline is common in those with multiple sclerosis, but not everyone is so afflicted. What governs whether an individual will suffer cognitive impairment? One proposed factor is cognitive reserve, and a new study adds to the evidence that cognitive reserve does indeed help protect against cognitive decline, as it does with age-related decline.

The study involved 50 people with multiple sclerosis plus a control group included 157 clinically healthy adults of similar age and education level, and found that those with more education (defined as more than 13 years of schooling) were protected against cognitive impairment. This is not simply a matter of the more educated starting off from a higher base! MS patients with low education performed more poorly on a demanding cognitive test than healthy controls with the same level of education, while MS patients with high education performed at the same level as their matched controls.

On the other hand, occupation (also implicated as a factor in cognitive reserve, though a less important one than education) did not have an effect. Nor did fatigue.

Cognitive performance was evaluated using the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT), in which a series of single digit numbers are presented and the two most recent digits must be summed. This test has high sensitivity in detecting MS-related cognitive deficits as it relies strongly on working memory and information processing speed abilities. The poorer performance of low-education MS patients was only found at higher speeds.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-07/ip-hem070213.php

[3474] Scarpazza, C., Braghittoni D., Casale B., Malagú S., Mattioli F., di Pellegrino G., et al.
(2013).  Education protects against cognitive changes associated with multiple sclerosis.
Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience. 31(5), 619 - 631.

Related News

I have said before that there is little evidence that

A British study looking at possible gender differences in the effects of math anxiety involved 433 secondary school children (11-16 years old) completing customized (year appropriate) mental mathematics tests as well as questionnaires designed to assess math anxiety and (separately) test anxiety

I’ve reported before on the evidence suggesting that carriers of the ‘Alzheimer’s gene’, APOE4, tend to have smaller brain volumes and perform worse on cognitive tests, despite being cognitively ‘normal’.

A study involving 75 perimenopausal women aged 40 to 60 has found that those with memory complaints tended to show impairments in

A new study explains how marijuana impairs

A review of 10 observational and four intervention studies as said to provide strong evidence for a positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance in young people (6-18).

Back in 2008, I reported on a small study that found that daily doses of Pycnogenol® for three months improved

We’re all familiar with the experience of going to another room and forgetting why we’ve done so. The problem has been largely attributed to a failure of attention, but recent research suggests something rather more specific is going on.

This is another demonstration of stereotype threat, which is also a nice demonstration of the contextual nature of intelligence. The study involved 70 volunteers (average age 25; range 18-49), who were put in groups of 5.

One of the few established cognitive differences between men and women lies in spatial ability. But in recent years, this ‘fact’ has been shaken by evidence that training can close the gap between the genders.

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news