mind

With Alzheimer's, continuing to keep the mind active slows deterioration

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 by: M.T. Whitney

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(NaturalNews) Keeping your mind active can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a study from the University of California Irvine shows.

The study involved mice bred to develop the plaque and other characteristics of Alzheimer’s. One set of mice was trained to swim to a specific location in a water tank, whereas the other set was allowed to swim in the tank freely.

Both sets of mice were tested at two, six, nine, 12, 15 and 18 months of age. The researchers found that the mice that went through training had less plaque for the first 12 months, but by month 15 their minds had deteriorated to an equal level as the untrained mice.

The study showed that learning new things in old age helped delay the appearance of lesions in the brain that signal the start of Alzheimer’s. The process that leads to Alzheimer’s is a buildup of the protein beta amyloid to create an equivalent to plaque in the brain. This plaque disrupts communication between cells and leads to Alzheimer’s.Doing simple, pleasurable things like crossword puzzles, building or reading, helps fight the numbing of the mind.

“We were surprised this mild learning had such big effects at reducing Alzheimer's disease pathology and cognitive decline, but the effects were not strong enough to overcome later and more severe pathology,” UC-Irvine postdoctoral researcher Kim Green said in a university press release. “We are now investigating if more frequent and vigorous learning will have bigger and longer benefits to Alzheimer's disease.”

Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 4.5 million adults in the United States and is the third-leading cause of death among Americans. The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s has doubled since 1980 and they are expected to grow past 4.5 million with the aging of the baby boomer generation.

The study appears in the January 24 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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