Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Greater purpose in life may protect against harmful changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease

Date:
May 7, 2012
Source:
Rush University Medical Center
Summary:
Greater purpose in life may help stave off the harmful effects of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

Greater purpose in life may help stave off the harmful effects of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.
Credit: Nejron Photo / Fotolia

Greater purpose in life may help stave off the harmful effects of plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center.

Related Articles


The study is published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

"Our study showed that people who reported greater purpose in life exhibited better cognition than those with less purpose in life even as plaques and tangles accumulated in their brains," said Patricia A. Boyle, PhD.

"These findings suggest that purpose in life protects against the harmful effects of plaques and tangles on memory and other thinking abilities. This is encouraging and suggests that engaging in meaningful and purposeful activities promotes cognitive health in old age."

Boyle and her colleagues from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center studied 246 participants from the Rush Memory and Aging Project who did not have dementia and who subsequently died and underwent brain autopsy. Participants received an annual clinical evaluation for up to approximately 10 years, which included detailed cognitive testing and neurological exams.

Participants also answered questions about purpose in life, the degree to which one derives meaning from life's experiences and is focused and intentional. Brain plaques and tangles were quantified after death. The authors then examined whether purpose in life slowed the rate of cognitive decline even as older persons accumulated plaques and tangles.

While plaques and tangles are very common among persons who develop Alzheimer's dementia (characterized by prominent memory loss and changes in other thinking abilities), recent data suggest that plaques and tangles accumulate in most older persons, even those without dementia. Plaques and tangles disrupt memory and other cognitive functions.

Boyle and colleagues note that much of the Alzheimer's research that is ongoing seeks to identify ways to prevent or limit the accumulation of plaques and tangles in the brain, a task that has proven quite difficult. Studies such as the current one are needed because, until effective preventive therapies are discovered, strategies that minimize the impact of plaques and tangles on cognition are urgently needed.

"These studies are challenging because many factors influence cognition and research studies often lack the brain specimen data needed to quantify Alzheimer's changes in the brain," Boyle said. "Identifying factors that promote cognitive health even as plaques and tangles accumulate will help combat the already large and rapidly increasing public health challenge posed by Alzheimer's disease."

The Rush Memory and Aging Project, which began in 1997, is a longitudinal clinical-pathological study of common chronic conditions of aging. Participants are older persons recruited from about 40 continuous care retirement communities and senior subsidized housing facilities in and around the Chicago Metropolitan area. More than 1,500 older persons are currently enrolled in the study.

This study was funded by the National Institutes on Aging. The authors thank the NIA for supporting this work and are indebted to the participants and staff of the Rush Memory and Aging Project and Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center for their invaluable contributions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rush University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rush University Medical Center. "Greater purpose in life may protect against harmful changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507164326.htm>.
Rush University Medical Center. (2012, May 7). Greater purpose in life may protect against harmful changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507164326.htm
Rush University Medical Center. "Greater purpose in life may protect against harmful changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507164326.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins