A new study published in the latest edition of Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience finds that multiple sclerosis sufferers can alleviate some of the symptoms linked to the disease by challenging themselves to never stop learning. The study follows up on the heels of prior research that’s shown that continual learning might have positive effect on the health of the brain.
According to Science Daily, continuous learning can take many forms. MS sufferers can attempt something as ambitious as enrolling in a higher education program to simple things like filling out crossword puzzles every single day. The key is to keep the brain constantly challenged and exercised.
The new study, like some before it, looked at how the brain worked to pay for neurological damage inflicted by MS. Unlike previous studies, however, the researchers tried to assess how good the brain was coping not via vocabulary tests, but by using the subjects’ education level and professional attainment.
They also evaluated both educational and occupational experience, hypothesizing that the individual’s lifetime occupational attainment may be considered a good proxy of CR, similar to the way in which higher occupational attainment cuts down on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The second purpose of the study ended up being to investigate the possible role of perceived fatigue. Fatigue may have a great negative affect on daily life, to ensure that higher perceived fatigue might lead to lower cognitive performance.
Fifty clinically diagnosed patients taken part in the research; 17 had less than 13 years of education and 33 who had 13 years or even more. Standard exams accustomed to judge vigilance, alertness and skill to concentrate on two tasks at the same time produced no distinction between the two groups.
However, on the more involved group of tests, the higher-educated subjects not just outperformed their less-educated peers, but performed in addition to a control group of subjects that didn’t have MS. Surprisingly, degree of professional achievement, unlike level of education, played no role in how good or how poorly MS patients performed on the tests.
“These results indicate that low education is a risk factor for cognitive impairment in individuals with neurological disease for example MS, whereas a higher educational level could be considered a protective factor from disease-associated cognitive impairment,” observes lead investigator Elisabetta Ldavas, PhD, Director from the Center for Studies and Research in Cognitive Neuroscience, Cesena and Professor of Neuropsychology in the Department of Psychology from the University of Bologna, Italy. She concludes that “The protective results of education on the cognitive profile of MS patients should be thought about in longitudinal studies of cognitive functions, as well as in therapeutic attempts to improve cognition in these patients.”