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An Active Mind May Delay Onset of Alzheimer Disease

Mouse study shows learning slows development of hallmark brain lesions

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A study in mice shows that learning slows the development of two brain lesions that are the hallmark of Alzheimer disease, according to results published in the Jan. 24 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Frank M. LaFerla, Ph.D., of the University of California at Irvine, and colleagues conducted experiments in 3xTg-AD mice, a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer disease, using water-maze spatial training.

Training delayed the redistribution of amyloid-beta (Aβ) to extracellular plaques and also reduced Aβ oligomers that are associated with cognitive decline. Moreover, the buildup of hyperphosphorylated-tau was reduced during the training process.

Although at the 12-month mark the mice that underwent training showed improved learning and memory skills and less of the plaques and tangles that characterize Alzheimer disease compared with the mice that received no training, the performance and physiology of both groups leveled out at 15 months.

"These findings indicate that, in young and middle-aged 3xTg-AD mice, repeated spatial training can significantly delay the development of neuropathology and decline in spatial memory," the authors conclude.

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