June 20, 2013
PET images show that neural reserve and neural compensation allows highly educated patients with prodromal Alzheimer’s disease to cope better with the disease than their less educated peers, according to a study published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
Italian researchers sought to determine if there was a metabolic basis for resilience to the neurodegeneration (cognitive reserve) in patients who were highly educated and were showing signs of mild cognitive impairment that later progressed into Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with more than 12 years of education were considered to be higher educated, and those with fewer than 12 years had lower levels of education. Cognitive reserve refers to the hypothesized capacity of an adult brain to cope with brain damage in order to maintain a relatively preserved functional level.