STONY BROOK, NY, May 24, 2019 – Exercising the brain by learning and thinking is known to improve cognition. Now a new study by Stony Brook University researchers reveals that higher education is associated with later onset of Alzheimer’s-related accelerated cognitive declines. Their findings are published early online in the Journal of Gerontology.
In summarizing the study, lead author Sean Clouston, PhD, Associate Professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, says “On average, those who had four years more of education had 2.3 years of longer healthy life expectancy without Alzheimer’s-related symptoms than those with less education.”
The study took a representative cohort of U.S. residents and their levels of education. The cohort consisted of more than 28,000 individuals from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Alzheimer’s disease was determined by an accelerated rate of decline in episodic memory consistent with symptoms of the disease. The researchers looked at episodic memory results from the cohort starting at age 50 plus then every two years for up to 20 years of observation.
Clouston and colleagues concluded that the results are consistent with cognitive reserve theory, which suggests that activities challenging the brain improve the brain’s ability to stave off symptoms of Alzheimer’s and related diseases.
Further study, suggest the authors, should involve research that seeks to differentiate between specific dementia types in large scale population models.
The research was sponsored by the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Aging (Grant: NIA R01 AG58595).
About Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with over 26,000 students, more than 2,700 faculty members and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University fuels Long island’s economic growth. Its impact on the Long island economy amounts to $7.38 billion in increased output. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.