Mon, Oct 24, 2016 | updated 08:54 AM IST

Brain: Use it so you don't lose it

Updated: Aug 04, 2016 12:30 IST

Washington D.C, Aug 4 (ANI): When it comes to warding off Alzheimer's disease, a new research suggests a lifetime of mental activity can be good for you.

Iowa State University researchers identified a protein essential for building memories that appears to predict the progression of memory loss and brain atrophy in Alzheimer's patients.

Research assistant Auriel Willette said that the findings also suggest there is a link between brain activity and the presence of the protein neuronal pentraxin-2, or NPTX2.

"NPTX2 seems to exert a protective effect," Swanson said. "The more you have, the less brain atrophy and better memory you have over time."

The discovery is encouraging as it offers an avenue to track the progression of Alzheimer's disease over time, but it also generates a lot of questions. Researchers want to know how best to boost NPTX2 levels and if there is an added benefit. They were struck by a trend in the data that points to a possible answer.

Study participants with more years of education showed higher levels of the protein. Willette noted that people with complex jobs or who stay mentally and socially active could see similar benefits, supporting the notion of "use it or lose it."

"You're keeping the machinery going," Willette said. "It makes sense that the more time spent intensely focused on learning, the more your brain is trained to process information and that doesn't go away. That intense kind of learning seems to make your brain stronger."

The study is published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. (ANI)