Prashanthi Vemuri, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minn., and colleagues.
Previous research has linked intellectual enrichment with possible protection against cognitive decline. The authors examined lifetime intellectual enrichment with baseline performance and the rate of cognitive decline in older patients without dementia and estimated the protection provided against cognitive decline.
How the Study Was Conducted:
The authors studied 1,995 individuals (ages 70 to 89 years) without dementia (1,718 were cognitively normal and 277 individuals had mild cognitive impairment) in Olmsted County, Minnesota. They analyzed education/occupation scores and mid/late-life cognitive activity based on self-reports.
Better education/occupation scores and mid/late-life cognitive activity were associated with better cognitive performance. The authors suggest high lifetime intellectual enrichment may delay the onset of cognitive impairment by almost nine years in carriers of the APOE4 genotype, a risk factor for Alzheimer disease, compared with low lifetime intellectual enrichment.
"Lifetime intellectual enrichment might delay the onset of cognitive impairment and be used as a successful preventive intervention to reduce the impending dementia epidemic."