London: People who carry on their
studies for long have a better chance of coping with the
effects of dementia, a new study has claimed.
A team of British and Finnish researchers found that
people with more education were as likely to be affected by
dementia-related brain changes than those who opt out of
further education, but they have a lower risk of developing
dementia -- a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of
the brain and its abilities.
According to the researchers, education acts as a
"protective layer" around the brain, helping to slow down the
progression of the condition.
For their study, published in the journal Brain, the
researchers examined the brains of 872 people who had been
part of three large ageing studies.
Before their death, the participants had completed
questionnaires about their education.
The researchers found that more education makes people
better able to cope with changes in the brain associated with
Past research has shown that for every additional year
spent studying there is an 11 per cent reduction in the risk
of developing the signs of dementia.
However, these studies have been unable to determine
whether or not education -- which is linked to higher
socioeconomic status and healthier lifestyles -- protects the
brain against dementia.
This is not the case, the new study lead by Professor
Carol Brayne of the University of Cambridge has found.
Instead, the study showed people with different levels of
education have similar brain pathology but that those with
more education are better able to compensate for the effects
Study co-author Dr Hannah Keage of the University of
Cambridge said: "Previous research has shown that there is not
a one-to-one relationship between being diagnosed with
dementia during life and changes seen in the brain at death.
"One person may show lots of pathology in their brain
while another shows very little, yet both may have had
"Our study shows education in early life appears to
enable some people to cope with a lot of changes in their
brain before showing dementia symptoms."