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Alzheimer's Progresses Faster in Educated People

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the dumber-they-are-the-softer-they-fall dept.

Education 226

Nrbelex writes "Bloomberg news is reporting that 'High levels of education speeds up the progression of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in next month's issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Mental agility dropped every year among Alzheimer's disease patients with each additional year of education, leading to an additional 0.3 percent deterioration, the researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York found. The speed of thought processes and memory were particularly affected.'"

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226 comments

Have the statistics been properly done here? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741743)

The first thought that came into my mind when I read this: if you have more (mental ability) and the end result of Alzheimer is the same for all people, then you will lose it (mental ability) faster...

I've got my Masters' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741808)

and I whole heartedly concur. Whatever we were talking about. Now, I have to rmember what I did with my account login for email and /.

/. ?
Cd ./
CD /.
Dir
ls
ll
What the fuck is wrong with my terminal here!

Re:Have the statistics been properly done here? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741842)

The good point would then be that in every stage in your ongoing deterioration you would anyway be better of than your counterpart with less I.Q. The curvature of the line along which your mental abilities get worse would be steeper, but the lines would not cross. So I think even Alzheimer is not the reason to stop your hacking :)

-Simonides

Re:Have the statistics been properly done here? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741880)

Alzheimer's is not the deterioration of intelligence, and education isn't a metric for gauging intelligence. Education is a metric of knowledge aggregation. The disease affects the memory of the patient. I think it's pretty clear why it would be more noticeable if your ability to retain information was impeded if you dealt with a lot of information.

Re:Have the statistics been properly done here? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741889)

The first thought that came into my mind when I read this: if you have more (mental ability) and the end result of Alzheimer is the same for all people, then you will lose it (mental ability) faster...

That's assuming they get to the end point at the same time, which may not be true.

Re:Have the statistics been properly done here? (1)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741947)

Maybe the loss is less noticeable in less educated people.
Gods, what an awful "joke". And will get me bad karma...

Re:Have the statistics been properly done here? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742006)

It's like saying rich people suffer greater economic losses from theft.

If I stole Bill Gates' lunch money, he'd still have plenty of dough left.

Re:Have the statistics been properly done here? (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742096)

After I read this story, I couldn't get a line from Blade Runner out of my head: "A candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long."

I guess there was more truth there than the authors realized. /somber

Makes Sense (2, Funny)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741746)

The more you put in the more you can lose. I for one am calling for a general ban on learning.

Re:Makes Sense (4, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741891)

I for one am calling for a general ban on learning.

This administration is doing its best to make that a reality

Re:Makes Sense (1)

timster (32400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742082)

It's not clear to me what education has to do with learning. In my experience, many people with too much education use it as a substitute for thought. If brain exercise prevents Alzheimer's, the kind of education that teaches people how to NOT think could very well make it worse.

Scientific education, that is... (-1, Troll)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741748)

Religious ejaykashun on the other hand is reported to slow down and may even completely eliminate not only Alzheimer's but many other forms of debilitating diseases.

A Disease for Stupid People...? (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741751)

So the disease is less damaging if you're more stupid than the average college graduate. Is that why they been dumbing down K-12 education for years to protect the general public's health?

Re:A Disease for Stupid People...? (4, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741821)

From Bloomberg UK: Previous studies have shown that people with high levels of education are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. The new study shows that the brains of more educated people can tolerate changes for longer periods of time, meaning signs of decreased mental agility typical of Alzheimer's disease appear later. When those signs do appear, the disease progresses faster than it does in less educated patients.

So the results of this one study don't mean much. If all previous research shows the opposite, then either a) this study is flawed and the conclusions inaccurate or b) this study uses new methodology, breaks new ground, and has discovered a new series of conditions for Alzheimer's propogation. The results won't be conclusive until more studies of this same type are produced verifying these results.

Re:A Disease for Stupid People...? (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742105)

Reread the clip you quoted - just because educated people are less likely to develope it does not mean that it doesn't progress faster in the cases where they do.

Re:A Disease for Stupid People...? (2, Insightful)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742205)

No, read what you quoted again. The new study doesn't contradict previous studies at all. Indeed, it's not even studying the same thing.

"Previous studies have shown that people with high levels of education are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease."

In other words, there is a negative correlation between education level and developing Alzheimer's.

"The new study shows that the brains of more educated people can tolerate changes for longer periods of time, meaning signs of decreased mental agility typical of Alzheimer's disease appear later."

The new study suggests that, among persons who already have Alzheimer's, persons with higher education have a much longer "incubation period" (meaning the time from initial infection to onset of symptoms -- placed in quotes because no parasite causes Alzheimer's and it's just conceptual here).

That is, there is a positive correleation between education level and duration of pre-symptomatic Alzheimer's.

"When those signs do appear, the disease progresses faster than it does in less educated patients."

All this says is that once symptoms appear -- the conceptual "incubation period" has ended -- persons with higher education levels progress more quickly. That is, there is a positive correlation between education level and rate of progression of symptom severity.

So if you're highly educated, you appear to be less likely to get it. And if you do get it, it takes a long time to develop into something that affects you. But if you do get it, once it does affect you, you're going downhill pretty fast.

Does it really mean (5, Insightful)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741753)

Regardless of education, the disease takes the same amount of time to degrade you to a mindless, insensitive clod with the same lower mental ability?

Braking from 100 km/h to 0 in 5 seconds is a harder deceleration than from 30 km/h to 0 in 5 seconds, for sure.

It's like Mad Chicken Disease (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741765)

How would you know? Can you tell as easily if a dim bulb gets dimmer?

Slashdot editors must be highly educated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741766)

Since they seem to have forgotten this was posted only days before.

My apologies (1)

timelorde (7880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741771)

Sorry about skipping yesterday's class, Dr. G, but I was conserving brain cells for my old age.

A bit misleading title (5, Informative)

dcw3 (649211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741776)

From TFA:
Previous studies have shown that people with high levels of education are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. The new study shows that the brains of more educated people can tolerate changes for longer periods of time, meaning signs of decreased mental agility typical of Alzheimer's disease appear later. When those signs do appear, the disease progresses faster than it does in less educated patients.

So, the more educated are actually less likely to have symptoms at the same age. I'm curious how they measured the drop off in ability, and the article doesn't say.

Re:A bit misleading title (MOD PARENT UP) (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742005)

The most worthwhile comment so far on the whole thread.

The previous studies have shown that people with high levels of education are less likely to develop the disease, which was interesting and a bit mystifying.

This study shows that perhaps that's not really what's going on. Perhaps something about education that makes you more resistant to the disease and more able to compensate for the slow decline it induces, but once you do start declining, it happens faster. The two studies together make a lot of sense and point to a mechanism. Either taken alone seems a bit strange.

Re:A bit misleading title (MOD PARENT UP) (2, Insightful)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742213)

I agree. Sounds like a misleading study. Mental agility is hard to measure across populations with simple tests - even when educated people start to lose a little, they often still perform well in tests as they have more 'reserve'. I imagine that there's probably a great deal of similarity in the amount of brain cells lost, but that the educated can continue to perform well in the tests as they can compensate. In the later stages of the disease, their reserve is exhausted and they decline faster. This agrees absolutely with what I have already read in textbooks when I was studying neuroscience (only a bit - in my medical student days, a few years ago now).

Sounds like lies, damn lies, and statistics. Fudging numbers to make claims rather than new ground.

Clarification (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742246)

I'd just like to remind everyone that being highly educated does not correspond directly to being highly clever. Some people need to work hard at it, some don't. Also, I thought the previous studies showed that it was people who 'exercised' their barins more were more resistant to the disease ... but I may not be recalling the study correctly.

Bogus (4, Insightful)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741781)

The findings are bogus: they cite a 0.3% difference between more highly educated Alzheimer's patients and their counterparts. The counterargument is that plenty of people who wound normally go to grad school insead choose to work in industry. This small lifestyle difference for four years in a subject's late twenties should not effect tests given at age 65+. More likely is that some other factor is introduced by lifestyle differences between the two major career paths.

Re:Bogus (3, Informative)

blakestah (91866) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741914)

The findings are bogus: they cite a 0.3% difference between more highly educated Alzheimer's patients and their counterparts. The counterargument is that plenty of people who wound normally go to grad school insead choose to work in industry. This small lifestyle difference for four years in a subject's late twenties should not effect tests given at age 65+. More likely is that some other factor is introduced by lifestyle differences between the two major career paths.

Well, it is already established that more educated people have a lower risk [nih.gov] of Alzheimer's, and a later onset [nih.gov]. This study, however, follows a few hundred already diagnosed patients for five years, and notes that the rate of cognitive decline is faster in the more educated patients. Probably they just didn't have enough coffee [nih.gov] Be a little more interesting when the study itself is available instead of the press release.

duh factor (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741785)

maybe no one notices in dumb people?

i keed, i keed.

0.3%?? (4, Insightful)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741791)

That's hardly significant. Statistically, you can't really call that a correlation. If you were told that high water intake causes .3% more cancer, you'd laugh. That's the problem with medical studies in the media. A slight increase in disease due to some factor is greeted with all kinds of FUD. Hell, even placebos typically have a 5 to 10% effect on things.

Re:0.3%?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741888)

Your comment is hardly significant, you really can't claim that your blistering 3 minute analysis trumps that of the researchers at Columbia University Medical Center. A journal felt it was significant. Go back to your hole, dirty hole man, you - make - me - sick!

Re:0.3%?? (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741930)

Beyond the fact that the news here isn't the 0.3%, it's the fact that a significant effect in the opposite direction was expected...

Every time a study is linked here, somebody starts spouting off about a sample of N people can't be significant or how some small effect size can't be significant. That's not how statistical significance works.

For the youngsters here, I'd strongly recommend taking time out from your CS classes to take an introductory stat class....

Re:0.3%?? (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742256)

Thats VERY good advice - statistics have little meaning without knowing how they're generated. I spend two years in school for CS and never heard anything about statistics other than averaging. But I dealt with a statistics course in my later path to a psychology degree, and finding out what those numbers mean can be a really big deal, especially to a computer scientist, who is someone who designs in algorithm but lets the computer do all the computation.

Re:0.3%?? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741965)

Take a class on statistics. Till then, your license to open your mouth is revoked.

How could you possibly know that? (3, Informative)

flyinwhitey (928430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742017)

"That's hardly significant. Statistically, you can't really call that a correlation."

Ok, Statty Mc Statenstein, do the math for us. I've included a handy link to test for significance, all you have to do is plug in the numbers and give us your answers.

http://www.coolth.com/siginsig.htm [coolth.com]
http://www.infoworks.ride.uri.edu/2000/techbrief/t echbrief5.htm [uri.edu]
http://www.visualstatistics.net/Visual%20Statistic s%20Multimedia/z_square_ratio.htm [visualstatistics.net]

Since we all like to have facts that support our arguments, all you have to do is present your math so we can verify that the is "hardly significant".

Deterioration not noticeable? (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741794)

Maybe the deterioration is just not noticeable.

Like this .. say you have half full jar of water .. and well it starts deteriorating from the top part downwards .. well then you won't notice any loss of water until the jar deteriorates to the half-way point.

If the jar was full .. the deterioration would be noticed faster.

Or, maybe the "undeducated" have more redundancy built in, which is probably why some of them hold on to what the educated consider "strange" beliefs.

I'm just speculating here. Also, as a true slashdotter I havent even read the article, so maybe it's debunked in there. lol.

RIP: Claue Shannon (1)

xee (128376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741798)

Claude Shannon, the father of Information Theory [wikipedia.org], died of Alzheimer's just a few years ago. He was certainly very well educated, and apparantly did indeed suffer quite a bit [mit.edu] with the disease.

Re:RIP: Claue Shannon (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741967)

Your link implies that the content discusses his suffering. It does not, it's merely a long, biographical obituary.

I was hoping for the rantings of a half-crazed man who has just figured out that he's lost his mind.

They've got it the wrong way around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741803)

I read an article recently in New Scientist that claimed that this is actually because educated people's brains cope with the early symptoms better. When the disease reaches later stages the deterioration gets faster as the brain can no longer compensate for the damage caused by the disease.

ie. Educated people are diagnosed much later, but then appear to deteriorate faster.

yeah ok (2, Insightful)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741816)

anything that claims to measure "an additional 0.3% deterioration" can't be taken seriously.  Please come back when your measure of 'mental ability' is so precise you can make a claim like this. 

I'm lost (1, Funny)

Caiwyn (120510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741819)

So... us 7-year undergraduates are more at risk, or less?

Beginner! (1)

J_Omega (709711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742044)

Haha, n00b! I'm working on my 15th year in college!

Er... though I still don't have my MS. (Done in May. *crossfingers*)

Does this make me "more" educated, because of the total time involved, or "less" because I've spread it all out over such a long period of time? (low [credits/year] average.)

Perhaps it has already begun.
Anyone hiring ElecEngs? I'll only be there a bit before retirement!

Where's my teeth?!

Not so fast.... (2, Informative)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741822)

I also watched an interview on the BBC where another group of researchers pointed out that these results *may* be because the onset of deterioration is more easy to spot in educated people, simply because they have 'further to fall' so to speak.

The actual rate of decline, they claimed, is no different.

Additional 0.3% deterioration? (4, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741831)

So how exactly is this being measured? From what I can find, all the story mentions is:

"All the patients underwent around four neurological assessments, each of which comprised a dozen separate tests of brain function."

Given that Alzheimers affects everyone in different ways, I guess I'm just a little leery of a study that's claiming that it can quantitatively compare the mental facilities of one victim to another.

Re:Additional 0.3% deterioration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741957)

Given that Alzheimers affects everyone in different ways, I guess I'm just a little leery of a study that's claiming that it can quantitatively compare the mental facilities of one victim to another.

Your own post contains the answer to your skepticism:

"All the patients underwent around four neurological assessments, each of which comprised a dozen separate tests of brain function."

The reason why they administered four different assessments, measuring a dozen separate tests of brain function, is because different people are affected in different ways, and the best way to detect that is by measuring different things.

Re:Additional 0.3% deterioration? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742053)

"Your own post contains the answer to your skepticism"

Not really, AC. It's not the actual assessment that bothers me. It's the scoring of the assessment. Suppose we have categories A and B that we're testing against. Now suppose that one test subject scores higher on A and lower on B than another test subject. Which patient has really lost more brain function as a whole? Is A more important than B? Is the baseline for sccoring even comparable between A and B? I'd much rather see the results of these different tests and make my own assesments than see some generic 0.3% blanket scoring difference.

matter of scale (1)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741840)

This does not surprise. With less education, there is
also less to deteriorate. Its like saying, that people
doing professional sports have a faster decay of their
muscle power when aging and base this on the time to run
one mile. The study measures it in
percentages but I guess, it is very difficult to
deteriorate basic intellectual skills.
It all depends on the scale.

statistically significant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741851)

How in the world could .3 percent be statistically significant in this study?

Yes! (1)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741869)

All you college grads can take my HS diploma and suck it! :P

Of course... what do they REALLY mean by educated? I mean, I would be doing myself a disfavor if I claimed someone with a college degree was better at my job than I just because of a piece of paper - so is it actually due to brain usage, or is it because I didn't soak my brain in drugs and alcohol for 4 years?

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742108)

You've painted a pretty interesting picture of college graduates in order to fluff up your ego.

A college degree represents to an employer that this person has been exposed to a certain academic background, say a rounded liberal arts degree which includes a wide variety of required courses in a broad area including sciences, art and humanities. It is assumed that the student is now equipped with a better range of problem solving skills and has at least a passing familiarity with many schools of thought. In addition, it shows that this person is able to meet the challenges of many different "bosses", stick to a long term goal and finish a 4 year program.

Someone who not only doesn't have this "piece of paper", as you choose to call it, but also claims superiority and downplays the college experience as being nothing more than a substance abuse program shows a serious attitude problem, and I for one would not choose to hire you.

No, you've already done yourself a disfavor by not continuing your education. My advice to you is to go back to school, young man, before it's too late!

Education vs vocational training (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742167)

I would be doing myself a disfavor if I claimed someone with a college degree was better at my job than I just because of a piece of paper

Education has nothing to do with making you better at your job. That's what vocational training is for. Education is primarily to extend your mind, populate and organize your information base, and improve your general problem-solving skills. As a byproduct it often helps you at work, or to get a job, but it's not targetted at that.

You won't have any less fun going through life with minimal education, since you can't miss something that you never had. You'll only know that you did the right thing to stay on in higher education after you've done it.

All you college grads can take my HS diploma and suck it! :P

Clearly using your intellect to the full there ...

Hence the saying (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741876)

Continued higher education is the process of learning more and more about less and less, until one knows everything about nothing.

This state is commonly known as the Ph.D.

This isn't a joking matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741894)

I for one think this is something we should not joke about. I mean come on, making fun of people with uh hey check it out what did you have for lunch? I'm going to go out now and look for I had a sandwitch and onions on is that a duck?

what

Poll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741906)

Since I cant post in the poll anymore because it's now "archived" I will do so here. The poll is WRONG! The code goes: up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-SELECT-S TART. It is NOT A-B-A-B!!!!!

Morons.

Re:Poll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741929)

That's because that poll was probably posted by some poser who never even played Contra!

btw, wtf kind of anti-script word is "solenoid". Yeah, a lot of humans are familiar with that word!

Re:Poll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741969)

Depends on the konami game for which system? What you say is true for the NES. The poll is correct about the snes.

Ronald Reagan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14741907)

He took quite the long time to decline to his final death. What do these results have to say for his pre-disease education and cognitive capacity?

Possibly (1)

NoseBag (243097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741909)

I think there are a number of things to consider about this information:

1) As has been pointed out in the comments, educated folks have more to lose, and (arguably) notice it sooner than less-endowed folks.
2) The thought processes of (most) educated folks are (arguably) more "conscious & deliberate" rather than "habitual", and therefore would be more succeptable to the Alz. degradation - and more noticeable to the victim. From personal experience (Mom-now) I can state that the thought and behavioral "habits" go last. Its "present" cognition and the active thought processes that degrade fastest and worst.
3) Personally, I look askance at just about ANY medical research that quotes a .3% variation in ANYTHING. Sorry, but the unavoidable noise level in med research - especially in thought, cognition, and learning/retention measurements - is just too high. Its just too subjective and the "norms" too variable to measure that accurately. IMHO, of course.

And in another study... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741921)

It shows that people who eat solid food, are prone to die.

This sort of garbage is what makes researchers look bad.

On a more positive note (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14741928)

It seems that there's a natural defense [cihr-irsc.gc.ca] against Alzheimer's Disease:
. . . bone marrow-derived microglia infiltrate amyloid plaques and succeed in destroying them most efficiently. These newly-recruited immune cells are specifically attracted by the amyloid proteins that are the most toxic to nerve cells.
Basically it's saying that the microglia in the brain try to destroy the plaques that cause the symptoms of the disease. For whatever reason, the microglia in the brain aren't very effective, but those in the bone marrow work just great. Perhaps the damage caused by Alzheimer's Disease can be stopped by injecting this sort of microglia into the brain, or maybe there's a way to enhance the response by the microglia already in the brain.

I disagree (1)

jmazzi (869663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742010)

It's more likely that educated people have a more noticeable decline. They start forgetting a lot of technical jargon and whatnot, things the average person doesnt use everyday. They have more information to lose, in my opinion.

Reflection of Rote Memorization? (4, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742021)

This is interesting. I would love to see a comparison between those with traditional American educations (which I assume is what this study focused on) and those who are similarly capable (perhaps who hold similar titles in similarly challenging fields), but who have followed less traditional paths in learning.

For example, I can point to five people at my current job - each a very skilled software engineer, and each very skilled in debating other topics in current events; among those five people are 1 PhD, 2 Masters, 1 college drop-out, and 1 high school drop out. The one thing we all agree on? Much of traditional American education has become primarily a matter of rote memorization - there is very little teaching of theory and problem solving involved.

Further, I saw a different study some years ago that showed a strong correlation between studying the arts late in life and delaying the onset of Alzheimers. Proficiency in the arts tends to require lots of understanding of abstract concepts, akin to studying theory in more technical fields, and requires little rote memorization.

That is to say, is it possible that the study hit on people whose minds have become less plastic as a result of education? People whose brains have been conditioned to be crystalizable by massive repetition instead of adaptable to new situations? Or, to take the nature instead of nurture angle, was the study skewed heavy on people with more crystaline brains, because such people are more proficient in an educational environment heavy on rote memorization?

Uhh...yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742031)

The more I study,
The more I learn.
The more I learn,
The more I know.
The more I know,
The more I forget.
The more I forget,
The less I know.

Ergo

The more I study,
The less I know.

So why study?

I have a lot to learn still... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742051)

It would seem to me that the more 'educated' a person is (not how smart a person is by any means) the more 'structured' his neural pathways might be. And if there is a more organized pattern in the way the brain operates, perhaps it would make sense that a disease of the brain would have an easier chance of settling in to do damage or that the effects of the damage would be more easily measured.

Consider two fields. One is just an unmanaged bunch of grass, the other is cultivated and irrigated. Both fields might yield a lot of growth, but due to the structure imposed on the other field, any interruption in it's structure could cause a lot more damage or damage in a much more noticable sense.

Play more GO! (2, Interesting)

J_Omega (709711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742086)


Well, if you trust in anectodal evidence:
http://users.eniinternet.com/bradleym/Mind.html [eniinternet.com] (Playing Go seems to "innoculate" one from Alzheimer's.)

So... I'm looking for ways to not just delay, but AVOID such a debilitating disease.

My body can fail me, and I'll accept it.
If my mind goes, someone shoot me please.

But you're less likely be diagnosed with it (1)

cruachan (113813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742132)

There's been quite a few studies showing that the more 'intelligent' you are, or at least the more you excercise your brain, the less likely you are to be diagnosed with Alzheimers in the first place.

One I particularly liked was of a Convent where before admission the nuns had to submit an essay on why the wanted to join. The essays were all kept. By comparing the essays of those who later died of Alzheimers with those who didn't it was show there was a stong negative correlation with increasing complexity in sentence structure and breadth of vocabularly with diagnosis of Alzheimers.

Pop psychology (1)

silverbax (452214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742177)

There are some contextual issues with the wording of this story's attention-getting headline. The sample of patients in the study was 312 people over 65, who had previously been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Of those 312 patients, those who had an extra year of education developed Alzheimer's later in life but when it did appear, it progressed more rapidly. So how many patients out of the 312 had that extra year? One? Six? Fifty? The article doesn't say. That matters, especially with such a tiny sample. It also doesn't say if people with more education are any more or less likely to contract the disease, or if it makes any difference. The current working theory is that people with more active neural stimulation ( i.e., people who remain mentally active and stimulated even into old age) are less likely to suffer the disease. So even if an individual had more education, it shouldn't matter, it's how much that person uses their mind as they get older.

This is almost precisely the reverse of..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742185)

The Algernon-Gordon effect. See 'Flowers for Algernon'.

In this fictional book the researchers were able to produce a mathematical model of the decline. Perhaps the real world researchers will use this reference in a nod to Daniel Keyes. Isn't it funny how everything Sci-Fi writes comes true eventually?

This doesn't seem to account for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742209)

This doesn't seem to account for current mental activity. In otherwords, if you have great learning (we'll pretend for the moment that education=learning, even though it doesn't) but you are not mentally active, you may experience great loss of mental agility. But if you continue to challenge yourself mentally, perhaps these results don't apply.

When I was a kid I worked in a grocery store, where a regular customer, himself old and living in a 'retirement community' but still quite sharp-minded, made just this observation to me. He told me as a warning that if I didn't keep exercising my mind throughout my life, it would atrophy like the minds of all the people around him. He had been a professional ghost-writer when he was younger, and he continued to read voraciously while retired. He attributed to this the difference between himself and the others in the retirement community, who were losing their marbles.

Of course this is anecdotal, but thoughtfully considered anecdotes beat irrelevent/misguided 'objectivity' anyday.

So Ignorance really is bliss (1)

thelizman (304517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742252)

As my grandpappy used to say (until dementia took over), "the good thing about alzheimers is that you can hide your own easter eggs."
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