The discovery highlights the importance of leading a cognitively stimulating life to keep a healthy brain
Researchers from the Research Group on Cognition and Cerebral Plasticity of the Biomedical Research Institute of Bellvitge (IDIBELL) and the University of Barcelona (UB), in collaboration with several hospitals, have discovered that a lifestyle intellectually Active confers protection against neurodegeneration in people with Huntington’s disease, delaying the onset of symptoms and loss of gray substance in the brain. The research, led by Dr. Estela Cámara and the PhD researcher Clara García Gorro, helps to understand the factors related to the differences in symptoms between patients with this disease and to decipher the brain mechanisms responsible for such differences.
The study, published in Neuropsychology, shows how patients with Huntington’s disease with the highest cognitive activity throughout life get better scores in neuropsychological tests. “These patients showed a delay in the appearance of the first symptoms of the disease and a lower level of atrophy in a zone of the brain especially affected in this disease, the caudate nucleus,” explains Clara García Gorro.
In order to evaluate the intellectual activity throughout life, the educational level, the type of professional occupation, the number of languages, the reading activity and the frequency with which the participants played games were taken into account like chess, among other factors.
These results suggest that greater mental activity protects the brain from the neurodegenerative process at a certain level, keeping it in good condition longer. “Therefore, this discovery highlights the importance of cognitive interventions in neurodegenerative diseases and lead a cognitively stimulating life to keep a healthy brain,” added Dr. Camera.
Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease of genetic origin for which there is no cure at the moment. Its main symptoms include motor, cognitive and psychiatric problems. The average age of onset of the first symptoms is around 40 years, being a progressive disease in which the symptoms gradually worsen.
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