As the largest resource of information specific to women's brain health, we are sure you will find what you are looking for, and promise that you will discover new information.
Published on: January 11, 2011
by Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation:
Having a larger head circumference, a sign of a bigger brain in young children, may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s in old age, a new study reports. The findings add to a growing body of evidence that the larger the brain and the richer the connection between brain cells, the less likely you may be to develop memory loss and thinking problems in old age.
“These results add weight to the theory of brain reserve, or the individual capacity to withstand changes in the brain,” said study author Robert Perneczky, M.D., of the Technical University of Munich in Germany.
The brain reserve theory holds that a large brain with robust connections can better withstand the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. As brain cells die off from the accumulation of the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s, enough may remain to keep the brain working normally.
The findings highlight the importance of proper brain development early in life. Because brain size reaches most of its full measure by age 6, the authors note, measurements of head circumference mainly reflect brain development during the early childhood years. Dr. Perneczky said that while brain growth is determined in part by genetics, it is also influenced by nutrition in childhood. Infections and inflammations of the central nervous system as well as brain injuries can also impair brain growth.
“Improving prenatal and early life conditions could significantly increase brain reserve, which could have an impact on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or the severity of symptoms of the disease,” he said.
For the study, which was published in the journal Neurology, 270 people with Alzheimer’s disease took tests of their memory and cognitive skills. They also had MRI scans of their brains to measure the amount of brain cell death. Brain size was determined by measuring the head’s circumference.
The study showed that a larger head size was associated with a greater performance on memory and thinking tests, even when there was an equivalent degree of brain cell death. Specifically, for every one percent of brain cell death, an additional centimeter of head size was associated with a six percent greater performance on the memory tests.
Larger brains may have more connections between them. Alzheimer’s is known to damage the brain, causing it to shrink as brain cells die and connections are lost. But the degree of brain damage does not always correlate with how intact thinking and memory skills remain. And many older people whose brains are filled with plaques and tangles, and in whom brain scans indicate likely Alzheimer’s disease, continue to function relatively well.
Other studies suggest that if two people have the same degree of brain damage from Alzheimer’s disease, memory and thinking skills are better preserved in the person with the larger head circumference. And some, but not all, studies suggest that people with larger brains, estimated by a larger head circumference, are less likely to have cognitive problems in old age.
Many factors besides head and brain size are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Genetics, age, level of education and previous head injuries can all affect Alzheimer’s risk. Regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet may also help to keep the memory sharp in old age.
Memory loss and cognitive decline are commonly thought to be the earliest signs of the disorder, but a new study has found declines in glucose levels in the brain come even sooner. Even better? The same team...
by G.S. Mudur for The Telegraph Ashwagandha, a plant used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, cleaned out abnormal protein deposits in the brain and reversed damage and behavioural changes observed in Alzheimer’s disease when tested on mice, a team of...
by Karen Ravn for Dementia Today Alzheimers symptoms and signs are unique on each patient. Through that it sometimes will be tricky to diagnose Alzheimers disease. Several of the signs and symptoms present in Alzheimer’s disease also exist in other conditions...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.