Scientists conducted research that analyzed age and sex, the presence of at least two diseases in participants, education and occupation. It quantified the relative contribution of these factors to the brain’s resistance to age- or illness-related damage. Participants were evaluated with a series of neuropsychological tests. They were then split into profiles based on the results: subjects at risk of cognitive decline, subjects with mild decline and subjects with severe decline.
Tests were repeated twice several years apart. Patients were classified as “resistant” or “declining” depending on whether they maintained or worsened their profile based on their initial performance.
Findings showed that, along with age, education and occupation were the best predictors of performance. The effects of age and education had previously been studied.
“We confirmed that education protects people from the risk of cognitive decline and that these individuals had held more complex occupations than the individuals of the other two groups, the subjects with mild and advanced cognitive decline,” University of Padua professor Sara Mondini of the University of Padua said.
The study demonstrated how the “resistant” group had higher levels of education on average. They also had more complex jobs than the “declining” group.
“This study highlights the role of working activity in protecting from cognitive decline across all fragile elderly groups and even more so the individuals who are at very high risk of decline,” the paper’s conclusion said.
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