All that time you've spent reading books and solving Rubik's cubes may have far more lasting benefits than previously thought. A new University of California, Berkley study, published today, shows that a lifetime of activities that require high levels of brain function helps to fight the formation of the beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The study took a look at the brains of adults aged 60 or over, none of whom had symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Those who had a lengthy history of stimulating their brains with activities such as reading, writing, and solving puzzles were found to have the lowest levels of the beta-amyloid proteins in their brains.
An important factor in the study was the length of time which participants had been stimulating their brains. Those who only started increasing their brain activity in their senior years were found to more plaque than those who had high brain activity their whole lives. This suggests that a lifetime of brain-intensive activity may be useful in fighting off the memory-destroying Alzheimer's plaques.
Once the symptoms of Alzheimer's begin to manifest, a lot of permanent and irreversible damage has already been done to the brain. This study shows the importance of a lifetime of mental stimulation in fighting Alzheimer's, as opposed to simply increasing brain activity as a senior.
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