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Brain Exercise Delays, then Hastens, Dementia

SHARE Brain Exercise Delays, then Hastens, Dementia

Brain exercises can help older people keep Alzheimer’s Disease at bay. But some Chicago scientists have found that protection may come at a cost.

The new research finds that keeping an active brain – reading the newspaper, doing brain teasers, visiting museums – can delay the onset of dementia. But if dementia does set in later, the cognitive decline happens a lot faster. That’s according to a study conducted by Rush University Medical Center researchers, led by neuroscientist Robert Wilson.

WILSON: If we’re right about what’s going on, a cognitively active lifestyle has the effect of compressing the amount of time that you spend in a demented state.

Wilson says cognitive exercise doesn’t seem to slow down the physical effects of aging on the brain. Instead, it helps the brain work around it. But at some point the disease overwhelms the brain’s defenses, and dementia quickly runs its course. The results are published in the journal, Neurology.

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