One large group study found that staying mentally active reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia by nearly half by building and maintaining a reserve of stimulation. “It is a case of ‘use it or lose it,’” said study leader Michael Valenzuela from the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Australia. “If you increase your brain reserve over your lifetime, you seem to lessen the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.” 46 percent risk reduction The study combined data from 29,000 individuals and 22 studies worldwide. It was detailed in a recent issue of the journal Psychological Medicine. It found that individuals with high mental stimulation had a 46 percent decreased risk of dementia. The protective effect was present even in later life, so long as the individuals engaged in mentally stimulating activities. The findings support the idea that a person’s education, occupation, IQ and mental stimulation play a big role in preventing cognitive decline. In a previous study, Valenzuela showed that after five weeks of memory-based exercise, participants increased brain chemistry markers in a direction that was opposite to that seen in Alzheimer’s. […]

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