Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment equal to being 8 yrs. younger in cognitive health

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NF52
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Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment equal to being 8 yrs. younger in cognitive health

Postby NF52 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:13 pm

This just out today in the online edition of JAMA Neurology: Association of Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment With Alzheimer Disease Pathological Changes and Cognitive Decline

The generous participants in the 20+ year Rush Memory and Aging Project were recruited from Chicago community-based settings and studied on average for 7 years with wide-ranging cognitive assessments. Of the people in this study, 24% were ApoE 4 carriers.

The key question was whether early cognitive enrichment (factors such as being read to at a young age, reading books at age 8 and above and studying a foreign language before age 18), were associated directly with cognitive health in old age (as has been suggested in previous studies) and ALSO indirectly associated with cognitive health due to less Alzheimer's brain pathology.

Here are the results, in excerpts:
From January 1, 1997, through June 30, 2019, 2044 participants enrolled, of whom 1018 died. Postmortem data were leveraged from 813 participants. Data were analyzed from April 12, 2019, to February 20, 2020...

ELCE [Early Childhood Cognitive Enrichment] was associated with better late-life cognitive health, in part through an association with fewer AD pathological changes...An indirect effect through AD pathological changes constituted 20% of the association between ELCE and the rate of late-life cognitive decline, and 80% was a direct association... The effect size associated with a 1-unit increase in the ELCE was equivalent to the effect size associated with being 8 years younger...Addition of a term for possession of an APOE ε4 allele did not affect results (eTable 4 in the Supplement), indicating that the association of ELCE with AD pathological changes was not confounded by APOE ε4 genotype.
This will reassure some of us lucky enough to have had these experiences. It also makes a compelling argument that ALL children should have rich cognitive experiences starting in preschool, with Head Start, UPK and high quality literacy support. Even with children who speak a home language other than English, teaching parents how to read to and with their preschoolers leads to strong English literacy later on. We help our future elder population when we help our youngest population.
4/4 and still an optimist!

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Re: Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment equal to being 8 yrs. younger in cognitive health

Postby circular » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:46 am

Imagine the benefits to all if seniors regularly met with children to read and discuss together!
ApoE 3/4 > Thanks in advance for any responses made to my posts.

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Re: Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment equal to being 8 yrs. younger in cognitive health

Postby Goomba Pizza » Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:16 am

Does this only mean that people with enriched childhood environments are neuroprotected, or does it also include people who were naturally cognitively advanced in childhood but did not have an enriched environment? Suppose there's an e4 guy named Bob. Bob was able to read Dr. Seuss books by himself at the age of 2-3 though he was almost never read to. Bob read teen-level books at age 8. His learning environment was very average/lacking and he did not have caregivers or schooling to contribute much to it. Is he protected?

Basically what I'm asking is: does "early cognitive enrichment" mean "early cognitive superiority", or "early educationally-enriched environment"?

And does it include native bilinguals and not just people who learned a second language by design?
3/4.

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Re: Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment equal to being 8 yrs. younger in cognitive health

Postby AKA » Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:21 am

Goomba Pizza wrote:Does this only mean that people with enriched childhood environments are neuroprotected, or does it also include people who were naturally cognitively advanced in childhood but did not have an enriched environment? Suppose there's an e4 guy named Bob. Bob was able to read Dr. Seuss books by himself at the age of 2-3 though he was almost never read to. Bob read teen-level books at age 8. His learning environment was very average/lacking and he did not have caregivers or schooling to contribute much to it. Is he protected?

Basically what I'm asking is: does "early cognitive enrichment" mean "early cognitive superiority", or "early educationally-enriched environment"?

And does it include native bilinguals and not just people who learned a second language by design?


Hello Goomba Pizza,

You have some very interesting research questions that I don't think were addressed in the JAMA article study. I didn't see any measure of inherent IQ. The four indicators they used to measure ELCE included: early-life socioeconomic status, availability of cognitive resources at 12 years of age, frequency of participation in cognitively stimulating activities, and early-life foreign language instruction. These measures were obtained by self-report. So the jury may be out on whether naturally cognitively advanced people are more resistant to AD!
The concept of cognitive reserve and the Stearn Study might offer more food for thought on this topic.
I found another article in Medpage Today, referencing the Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment Study. They used the terms "early enrichment may promote resistance" which to me seems to be more accurate, many lifestyle factors can contribute to AD resistance and or AD susceptibility. That being said, I sure wish I had learned a second language when I was young!!! ;)
The Nun study also showed a correlation between linguistic ability early in life and remaining cognitively normal decades later. Here is a quote from that study, "it remains a fascinating observation that an intellectual ability measured in the early 20s can predict the likelihood of remaining cognitively normal 5 or 6 decades later, even in the presence of substantial AD pathology."

I guess I can go on forever on this topic, so I'd better stop here :roll:

Thank you for your questions and posts, Goomba Pizza. I want to share a few more links that might be helpful, the first is related to your research participation question from your other post. Here is a link in the wiki pages that has more research resources. Another helpful area is the wikipages home page that can get you to a number of topics and finally the Primer which was written by a member physician and is chock-full of apoe4 info.

Look forward to more learnings with you,
Andrea

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Re: Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment equal to being 8 yrs. younger in cognitive health

Postby Goomba Pizza » Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:09 pm

Thanks for your answer. I poked around a little into these studies since asking my question, and it does seem that the jury is still out. The impression I get is that people, whether through enhanced education or natural ability, have finite "brain stores". It's almost like it's a simple function: the bigger your brain stores, the more brain you can afford to lose before AD makes you unable to function independently.

I can imagine this is worrisome to people with a high level of cognitive functioning. Bob is used to having, say, a 160 IQ, and his friend Jack is used to having a 100 IQ. The neurologist (an unethical one, because he talks about other patients to Bob, lol) tells Bob, "Well, at least it'll take you longer to eat through your brain. Five years from now you'll be at IQ 100 and still be able to be a normal guy with no diagnosable AD. Your buddy Jack, on the other hand, can't afford to lose 60 points off his IQ. He'll be sitting at 40 and will need live-in care." Little comfort to Bob, since he has no interest in being like his buddy Jack is now.

This is all based on my impressions, but I am not a neurologist so I may be getting the whole thing wrong for all I know.
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Re: Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment equal to being 8 yrs. younger in cognitive health

Postby AKA » Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:55 am

Goomba Pizza wrote:Thanks for your answer. I poked around a little into these studies since asking my question, and it does seem that the jury is still out. The impression I get is that people, whether through enhanced education or natural ability, have finite "brain stores". It's almost like it's a simple function: the bigger your brain stores, the more brain you can afford to lose before AD makes you unable to function independently.

I can imagine this is worrisome to people with a high level of cognitive functioning. Bob is used to having, say, a 160 IQ, and his friend Jack is used to having a 100 IQ. The neurologist (an unethical one, because he talks about other patients to Bob, lol) tells Bob, "Well, at least it'll take you longer to eat through your brain. Five years from now you'll be at IQ 100 and still be able to be a normal guy with no diagnosable AD. Your buddy Jack, on the other hand, can't afford to lose 60 points off his IQ. He'll be sitting at 40 and will need live-in care." Little comfort to Bob, since he has no interest in being like his buddy Jack is now.

This is all based on my impressions, but I am not a neurologist so I may be getting the whole thing wrong for all I know.


Goomba Pizza,
I am holding on to the theory that cognitive reserve and brain reserve can be enhanced as noted by Yaakov Stern's study. If that is the case and our buddy Jack makes valuable lifestyle changes but Bob starts smoking and eating at the local fast-food chain.... the story may have a different ending! ;) :?:

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Re: Early-Life Cognitive Enrichment equal to being 8 yrs. younger in cognitive health

Postby JML » Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:27 am

Goomba Pizza wrote:I can imagine this is worrisome to people with a high level of cognitive functioning. Bob is used to having, say, a 160 IQ, and his friend Jack is used to having a 100 IQ. The neurologist (an unethical one, because he talks about other patients to Bob, lol) tells Bob, "Well, at least it'll take you longer to eat through your brain. Five years from now you'll be at IQ 100 and still be able to be a normal guy with no diagnosable AD. Your buddy Jack, on the other hand, can't afford to lose 60 points off his IQ. He'll be sitting at 40 and will need live-in care." Little comfort to Bob, since he has no interest in being like his buddy Jack is now.
I also wish I knew the answer to the question, but in the meantime, I am really enjoying your sense of humor!
Julie
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