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Cognitive Activity Impacts Alzheimer's Disease Progression

Cognitive activity appears to slow cognitive decline before dementia onset, speed decline thereafter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitively stimulating activity may slow cognitive decline prior to dementia onset in Alzheimer's disease (AD) but lead to faster decline after onset, according to a study published online Sept. 1 in Neurology.

Robert S. Wilson, Ph.D., of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues evaluated 1,157 older residents of a geographically defined population who were free of dementia at study enrollment. Participants were sampled for clinical evaluation a mean of 5.6 years after enrollment and then followed for a mean of 5.7 years with brief cognitive performance testing every three years.

During clinical evaluation, the investigators found that 614 participants had no cognitive impairment, 395 had mild cognitive impairment, and 148 had AD. Among participants without cognitive impairment during follow-up, the annual rate of global cognitive decline decreased by 52 percent for each additional point on the cognitive activity scale. The cognitive decline rate was not associated with cognitive activity among participants with mild cognitive impairment. The mean rate of annual decline increased by 42 percent for each point on the cognitive activity scale among participants with AD.

"The results suggest that late-life cognitive activity compresses the cognitive morbidity of AD by delaying its onset and by hastening cognitive decline after dementia onset," the authors write.

One study author disclosed financial ties to Pfizer and another to Eli Lilly.

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