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’ve reported before on evidence that young children do better on motor tasks when they talk to themselves out loud, and learn better when they explain things to themselves or (even better) their mothe

We know that physical exercise greatly helps you prevent cognitive decline with aging. We know that mental stimulation also helps you prevent age-related cognitive decline. So it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a way of combining the two.

American football has been in the news a lot in recent years, as evidence has accumulated as to the brain damage incurred by professional footballers. But American football is a high-impact sport. Soccer is quite different.

The study involved 1,292 children followed from birth, whose cortisol levels were assessed at 7, 15, and 24 months. Three tests related to executive functions were given at age 3.

In yet another study of the effects of pollution on growing brains, it has been found that children who grew up in Mexico City (known for its very high pollution levels) performed significantly worse on cognitive tests than those from Polotitlán, a city with a strong air quality rating.

Math-anxiety can greatly lower performance on math problems, but just because you suffer from math-anxiety doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to perform badly.

Research into the effects of cannabis on cognition has produced inconsistent results. Much may depend on extent of usage, timing, and perhaps (this is speculation) genetic differences.

In the study, two rhesus monkeys were given a standard human test of

A study comparing activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in young, middle-aged and aged macaque m

Pages

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