June 24, 2019 – Education and Alzheimer’s


Anchor lead: What is the link between education level and Alzheimer’s disease? Elizabeth Tracey reports

People with more years of education seem to manifest Alzheimer’s disease less often than those with fewer years. Now a new study by Rebecca Gottesman, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, separates pathology in the brain from thinking.

Gottesman: People’s educational level, meaning how many years of education they got, as well as their cognitive performance on tests when they were middle aged, were both associated with their cognitive performance when they were older. If you have better performance when you’re younger you’ll still have better performance when you’re older, but they were not associated with amyloid in the brain. The lack of an association there suggests that the way that these factors protect against dementia is by making your cognitive performance better and not necessarily directly impacting the processes that lead to Alzheimer’s such as amyloid buildup.  :30

Gottesman notes that studies that deplete amyloid have been disappointing so far in preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease, but education may help. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.