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Keep your mind active to keep Alzheimer’s at bay


New York: Taking part in mentally stimulating activities such as reading books and magazines, playing games and using computers in the middle age may delay symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, says a study by an Indian-origin researcher.

“The takeaway message for the general public is that keeping your mind active is very important in delaying symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author Prashanthi Vemuri, dementia researcher at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, US.

The findings were published in the online edition of the journal Neurology.

People who are carriers of a gene linked to Alzheimer’s, called APOE4, who had at least 14 years of education and kept mentally active in middle age had lower levels of proteins called amyloid plaques.

The proteins can build up in brain tissue and lead to Alzheimer’s disease. People with the gene and a high level of education but did not keep mentally active in middle age had higher levels of amyloid plaques, the study said.

For the study, researchers evaluated 393 people without dementia who were part of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Of those, 53 had mild cognitive impairment.

All were 70 years of age or older. They were divided into two groups: those with more than 14 years of education and those with less.

Then, researchers used MRI and positron emission tomography scans to look for biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease and questionnaires to evaluate weekly intellectual and physical activity in middle age.

“When we looked specifically at the level of lifetime learning, we found that carriers of the APOE4 gene who had higher education and continued to learn through middle age had fewer amyloid deposition on imaging when compared to those who did not continue with intellectual activity in middle age,” Vemuri said.

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