It is commonly thought that mental stimulation will decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, researchers from Mayo Clinic found that for the majority of the Alzheimer’s population keeping mentally and physically active will only slow the progression of symptoms, not the actual disease.
In the longitudinal study 393 participant, between 70 and 89 were asked to report their mental and physical activity and were then imaged to look for Alzheimer’s disease progression. The study specifically look at the APOE4 gene in this study. APOE4 is an allele of APOE (apolipoprotein E) increases the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and associated with an earlier onset. APOE is involved in making a protein that carries cholesterol and fat int he bloodstream. The study found those who had the APOE4 gene not only showed a decrease in Alzheimer’s symptom progression but also a decrease in progression of the actual disease in certain parts of the brain with mental and physical activity.
Do not count out mental and physical stimulation just yet. There has been many studies that support how lifestyle enrichment helps delay onset of cognitive impairment and it helps prevent other disorders such as diabetes.