Playing Games May Reduce Alzheimer’s Pathology

Higher cognitive activity in young and middle-aged adults is associated with lower levels of Alzheimer’s pathology according to an article published in Archives of Neurology on January 23, 2012,

We all need to learn to play new games and partake in cognitive activities according to the main outcome measured in this most recent study.  These activities consisted of reading, writing and playing games.  The study participants comprised of 65 healthy older individuals, (average age 76), 10 patients with Alzheimer’s disease (average age 75), and 11 young controls (average age 24.5) were studied from October 31, 2005, to February 22, 2011.

The participants answered questions about how often they engaged in stimulating mental activities throughout their lifetimes. They also got PET brain scans which can identify beta-amyloid deposits. Those deposits are found in the brains of people who have Alzheimer’s.  University of California-Berkeley research scientist Susan Landau says the study showed a link between the quantity of deposits and the lifetime level of brain stimulation.

Aging and a family history of Alzheimer’s are both considered risk factors, but we can’t control those. And even if your brain hasn’t been particularly active up until now, Landau says it’s not too late to start ratcheting up your mental activities.  “I think that cognitive stimulation is probably beneficial at any age. But, what our findings from this study show, is that the more cognitively active you can be over the course of your lifespan, the better”

The researchers at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, found that people, who engaged in brain-stimulating activities, particularly when they were young and middle-aged, had the least amount of beta amyloid.  “This study suggests that not only does it reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but it may affect the pathological process itself,” said Dr. William Jagust, the lead researcher, a professor of neuroscience at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.  “This kind of lifetime cognitive activity may make people’s brains more efficient. And if your brain is functioning better, it’s possible that would result in producing less of this amyloid,” he explained.

Individuals with greater early- and middle- life cognitive activity had lower β-amyloid uptake.  The research reports a direct association between cognitive activity and β-amyloid uptake, suggesting that lifestyle factors found in individuals with high cognitive engagement may prevent or slow deposition of β-amyloid, perhaps influencing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

So what are you waiting for?  Now is the time to give your brain and your lifetime a healthy dose of playing games. It will only make you stronger and smarter cognitively.  Try playing something new every day.

I like to challenge myself with a different game from each of Marbles the Brain Stores sections on the brain’s responsibilities.  Currently from the Memory section I love Eye Know and Kwizniac, while I am learning the intricacies of Mind Your Marbles and Mindstein.  Very good for Visual Perception exercise and quite a challenge is Tri-Spy.  My new favorite Critical Thinking challenge is Modus; three games in one and all are worth the time to learn.  Both Kendama and Kapla keep my hand-eye coordination challenged while my two favorite Word Skill products are Pathwords for independent play and Reverse Charades for a fun group activity.  So never stop new learning, your brain will thank you for doing so for a long time.

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One Response to Playing Games May Reduce Alzheimer’s Pathology

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