28 December 2021

Study, study and study

Swiss scientists have found out how education affects brain aging

Daria Balyasnikova, "Doctor Peter"

Disputes about the benefits of higher education are an eternal topic. However, supporters of study have a new argument: scientists have found that a good education helps to maintain mental clarity for longer.

The results of the work of the staff of the University of Zurich are published in the publication NeuroImage: Clinical (Hotz et al., Associations of subclinical cerebral small vessel disease and processing speed in non-demented subjects: A 7-year study).

A group of scientists led by Professor of neuropsychology Lutz Janke set out to find out whether education has an effect on our brain already in old age. In order to understand the issue, the researchers analyzed data from more than 200 elderly people. All participants in the experiment did not suffer from dementia, did not have initially low intelligence and led an active lifestyle.

After checking the data of surveys of volunteers, experts came to the conclusion that academic education has a positive effect on age-related brain degeneration.

It turned out that over seven years of observations, much fewer typical signs of brain degeneration were recorded in elderly people with higher education. In addition, as the test results showed, people with a good education process information faster and more accurately — and with age, their brains did not lose so much in productivity.

Scientists have not yet been able to determine exactly how education and cognitive abilities are related in old age. According to the preliminary version, it's all about neural connections: people accumulate them during their studies, building up a "reserve". And already in old age, due to these accumulations, their brain is able to compensate for emerging disorders.

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