Cognitive Reserve: Prevention against Alzheimer Disease?

Everything had started in 1980 when something strange and unusual happened.

Performing autopsy, post-mortem examinations on some individuals, researchers unexpectedly discovered Alzheimer’s disease. Unusual was that these individuals had no or very few symptoms of the disease when they were alive, and they had an advanced form of Alzheimer’s!

After studying these unusual cases, the conclusion was: These individuals did not show symptoms because they had a sizeable cognitive reserve- the mind’s resistance to damage of the brain.

Cognitive brain functions are multiple mental abilities of the brain to do in a meaningful way:

  • Apply information
  • Work with information
  • Recognize previously learned information
  • Carry out any mental task

A person with a more significant cognitive reserve has more massive brains and more neurons than patients with more severe symptoms. Also, they will show less age-related problems with their memory than someone with a smaller reserve.

Higher reserve protected the progression of the disease.

We can understand cognitive reserve as the mind’s resilience to damage of the brain.

With a higher cognitive reserve person can stave off symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, or other brain diseases, continuing to live life with no signs of illness, tolerating more of these changes than others, and still maintain function.

High level of cognitive reserve protecting the brain damage after the person was under high stress, or expose to surgery or environmental toxins. The cognitive reserve can help functioning better and longer without serious side effects.

Can you increase your cognitive reserve?

Sure, you can.

Cognitive reserve depends on two things:

1. Life style

2. Educational Level

Lifestyle is about your social and cultural activities. With the right social and friendly environment, a person has a more significant cognitive reserve. Regular physical activity, a great social life, less stress, also improves cognitive function and reduces the risk of dementia. Healthy dietary habits improve brain function and cognitive reserve. Any mental activities that engage your brain with new skills may increase cognitive reserve.

New challenges for the mind, like writing, studying, reading, learning a new language, or a new musical instrument, increase cognitive reserve.

Higher education, more years in school, is associated with a higher cognitive reserve and a better protective factor against cognitive problems in life.

People with less education can increase their level of cognitive reserve as well by following suggestions on how to improve cognitive reserve.