Good Wiring in Brain Keeps Dementia Away

Well-connected brain with good neural wiring helps in keeping dementia away, says a study.

Researchers from University of Edinburgh used three different brain imaging techniques to measure the amount of water in brain tissue. The scans of thinking and reaction timing of the study group were analyzed.

The study included 420 people from the Lothian Birth Cohort of 1936. The cohort has about 1,100 people whose health and intelligence levels have been monitored since age 11.

"Our results suggest a first plausible way how brain structure differences lead to higher intelligence. The results are exciting for our understanding of human intelligence differences at all ages," said Dr. Lars Penke, author of the study.

A related study published in the journal Neurology says that white matter tract disruption occurs in normal ageing. Many studies have shown that as people age their brain disconnects and this co-relates with cognitive decline.

"They also suggest a clear target for seeking treatment for mental difficulties, be they pathological or age-related. That the brain's nerve connections tend to stay the same throughout the brain means we can now look at factors that affect the overall condition of the brain, like its bloody supply," Penke said.

A study published in the journal Archives of Neurology says that Vitamin E consumption can slow down cognitive decline in people. The study also found that Vitamin C had a limited effect and carotene had no effect in protecting against cognitive decline. The research about what foods delay cognitive decline is still controversial.

"These findings are exciting as they show how quantitative brain imaging can provide novel insights into the links between brain structure and cognitive ability. This is a key research area given the importance of identifying strategies for retaining good mental ability into older age," said Mark Bastin, co-author of the study.

Taking part in everyday activities too can act as a buffer in cognitive decline. People with high intellectual ability remain mentally healthy till very old age, says a study in American Psychological Association.

"This research is very exciting as it could have a real impact on tackling mental decline in later life, including dementia. With new understanding on how the brain functions we can work out why mental faculties decline with age in some people and not others and look at what can be done to improve our minds' chances of ageing better," said Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research at Age UK.

Another study published in Neurobiology of Ageing in 2009 had reported that some decline in how the brain functions occurs as early as age 20 or 30.

The present study is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.