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Low education makes the brain age faster

26 July 2014 - 05:50 PM

Mental capacity and IQ deteriorate much faster for people with less education than others, study reveals. The findings provide new insight into the development of dementia.



Growing old isn’t fun. Our joints and muscles get weaker and our brain and mental capacities get slower. But this happens faster for some than for others.

That’s the conclusion of a new Danish study that found that people with little lose mental and cognitive abilities much faster than those who do more years at school.

When the scientists looked at the participants’ educational backgrounds and lines of work and compared them with how their cognitive performances deteriorated over the years they found a considerable difference.

“It seems that challenging the intellect daily counters the wear and tear of the brain brought on by ageing,” says Eigil Rostrup, consultant doctor at Glostrup Hospital and senior researcher behind the study which was recently published in the journal Human Brain Mapping.

An unhealthy lifestyle isn’t the reason

Previous studies have shown that people with low incomes and limited education have a tendency to lead less healthy lifestyles than others and exercise less. This kind of lifestyle leads to a higher risk of dementia and ageing of the brain -- and could perhaps explain the results.

“We expected to see a majority of smokers and overweight people in the group of participants whose mental capacities had deteriorated the most, as the unhealthy lifestyle is hard on the body. But surprisingly that wasn’t the case,” says Rostrup.

“The obvious interpretation is that people with limited education and a job that’s less mentally demanding age faster, because they don’t exercise their cognitive functions on a daily basis to the same extent,” he says.

Long-term study reveals developments

The Danish study was based on data from 2,400 boys born in Greater Copenhagen in 1953, collected over the course of 57 years. The boys were tested physically and mentally at the age of 20, and then again at the age of 57. The data allowed the researches to evaluate the participants’ physical state, weight, and smoking habits, as well as their IQs.


The ‘Brain’s Default Mode Network’ is located in three areas of the brain: the frontal cortex, the posterior cingulate cortex and the parietal lobe.

The change from activity in the brain’s default mode network to the problem solving activity is known as the task-induced deactivation (TID).

From the group of 2,400 men, the researchers then picked the 100 healthy participants who got the best scores at age 57 compared with their results at age 20, and the 100 men who got the poorest scores compared with their results at age 20. These participants were invited to Glostrup Hospital, where they had their brains scanned while solving a task.

“We asked the participants to lie completely still in the MR-scanner without doing anything. Once in a while a light would flash in the scanner and at the same time the participant had to move his fingers,” says Rostrup.

This allowed the researchers to tell how the participants’ brain activity changed from activity in the so-called default mode network to problem solving activity. The ability to make this change deteriorates with age.

Mental gymnastics ease symptoms of ageing

The brain scans showed that the least educated participants were not as good at making the change from default mode to problem-solving activity. And that’s a sign of advanced ageing, says Rostrup.

“In young people the brain quickly and efficiently switches from the default mode to problem-solving activity. But in elderly people, and especially those who are demented or suffer from Alzheimer’s, this change is slow and inefficient,” says Rostrup.

So the results suggest that an education or a job that challenges the brain on an everyday basis will give you extra mileage when it comes to avoiding dementia and working against the general ageing of the brain.

“The better our brains manage this change from rest to problem-solving when we are 60, the better equipped we will be at the age of 80 when it comes to handling the tasks of daily life and avoiding the symptoms that are especially common in patients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s,” says Rostrup.

“However, it should be mentioned that it was only a minor effect and that the participants weren’t necessarily on their way to developing dementia. But it’s a biological indication of advanced ageing,” he says.

Could be used to prevent dementia

Upwards 80,000 Danes suffer from dementia. The illness grows more and more common as life expectancy goes up.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia and accounts for roughly 60 percent of all cases of dementia.

Simon Fristed Eskildsen, associate professor at Aarhus University and researcher at the Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, says new study is interesting and based on a large amount of data and information that isn’t usually available, says He believes that the study could be a step towards understanding how dementia and Alzheimer’s develop.

“It’s interesting if we can predict whether people will develop dementia or Alzheimer’s, as we will then be able to take preventive measures against the symptoms. One approach could be a change in lifestyle, getting more exercise. Or exercising one’s cognitive functions to a greater degree,” says Eskildsen.

It’s also very interesting from a medical perspective to catch patients at the early stages of dementia, so the illnesses aren’t so advanced that nothing can be done, he says.

“Dementia is hard for the patients and their relatives, and it’s also a great economic strain on society, as people with dementia often have difficulty taking care of themselves. So the results are very interesting, as they may help us understand and prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s,” says Eskildsen.

Needs to be tested on individuals

However, the study is only a small step towards being able to predict dementia and Alzheimer’s, as the researchers normally can’t compare the individual patient’s cognitive performance at a young age with their performance late in life, Eskildsen says.

“It would be very interesting if we could develop a way to measure the deterioration in individuals. Here the researchers are looking at large groups for an extended period of time in order to evaluate the deterioration process. Doctors very rarely have that information at their disposal,” he says.

So, at this point the study indicates that it pays to exercise -- not just the body, but also the mind – if one would like to stay young for as long as possible.

Man jailed after girl lied about her age

22 July 2014 - 04:00 PM

Man traveled from Maryland to have sex with 13-year-old girl in Suffolk



Suffolk, Va. – 20-year-old Devonta Day traveled four hours from Maryland to Suffolk.  He told police he thought he was coming to visit an 18-year-old girl, according to court documents.

In reality, she was 13. Now, Day is charged with having sex with a minor.

The two met through an online chat website 2-3 months ago. The documents say that’s when Day told officers the girl first told him she was 18.

Officers were called to Dixon Drive around 3:30am Sunday morning. It’s a long street in the middle of a neighborhood.

Someone reported seeing a suspicious car parked alongside the road. The caller thought no one was inside of it.

When police got to the neighborhood, they found the car.  According to the documents, Day and the girl were inside the car, both partially naked.

When officers questioned the two, court papers say the girl lied to police and said she was 18-years-old.

Day is being held in jail without bond.


I was born in the wrong decade

13 July 2014 - 05:42 PM

When did this kind mentality start? Why is it so prevalent with people in their early 30s? TIA

Texas Roadhouse -Worse than Applebees?

25 June 2014 - 04:45 PM

I ate there tonite. I am not really impressed but hey, that's what I get for ordering the special - 11 oz. Sirloin.

Judge says there is no constitutional right to cold beer

17 June 2014 - 05:34 PM




INDIANAPOLIS - An attempt to allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell cold beer in Indiana has fallen flat.

A federal judge in Indianapolis has thrown out a lawsuit which seeks the sale of cold beer by all retail outlets that hold a beer dealer permit.

Chief Judge Richard Young handed down the 34-page order late Monday afternoon. In it, he upholds the current state law.

Currently, only package liquor stores can sell "chilled" beer, other stores must sell it at room temperature.

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association filed the lawsuit in May 2013 to challenge the law that bars the sale of cold beer by convenience and grocery stores. The group claimed Indiana's alcohol law violates the equal protection of the U.S. Constitution by favoring one class of retailer of another.

Monday's ruling said allowing convenience and grocery stores to sell cold beer would mean more alcohol sales in Indiana, making it harder for Indiana State Excise Police to enforce state liquor laws.

The ruling also rejected claims by the convenience store group that the law is "arcane," saying the legislature has drawn a line on what it will allow and has made a case for it, so it is not for the judge to act as a super-legislature and overturn it.

"Our members and Hoosiers are disappointed that the court did not rule to end an irrational, discriminatory and outdated law," said IPCA Executive Director Scot Imus. "There is wide-support to modernize Indiana’s alcohol laws, and we will continue to fight for fairness in the marketplace."

Watch RTV6 and refresh this page for updates.

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