We may finally know how cognitive reserve protects against Alzheimer's (NewScientist)

Why does mental effort lead to a more resilient brain that can withstand dementia and decline? We are now discovering the mechanisms behind this cognitive reserve, opening up new ways to boost it

We have known for almost three decades that some peoples’ brains can function normally even when riddled with the plaques and other damage associated with dementia, due to an enigmatic capacity called cognitive reserve. Yet despite growing evidence of its importance, it has been challenging to pin down how this quality operates in the brain. Now, we are finally beginning to understand the mechanisms that underlie cognitive reserve, opening up possible new dementia treatments and fresh ideas about how we can protect our thinking abilities into old age. And it turns out that obsessing about learning another language or doing a daily crossword might be missing the bigger picture.

What is cognitive reserve?

The concept of cognitive reserve arose nearly 30 years ago when Yaakov Stern, a neuropsychologist at Columbia University in New York, and his colleagues found that people with higher education or a more intellectually challenging occupationwere less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers hypothesised that the extra years of intellectual effort imparted “a reserve that delays the onset of clinical manifestations”.

Full story: https://archive.ph/TueJ6


So, in essence, it’s exercise for the brain. This then prevents Alzheimers.

I guess exercise is great no matter which part of the body does it… :slight_smile:


Use it or lose it. It’s a good philosophy to follow until we know what’s really happening.


If you’ve got an IQ of 160, probably going to have to knock off a lot of neurons to become obviously impaired… not too many would be needed lost if starting at 70.
If your brain is being used everyday as an endurance organ with high use; it’s going to be a lot harder to take it out with even a modest injury.