- Continuing education during middle or older age may boost cognitive reserve and thereby reduce dementia risk.
Why this matters
- Rising prevalence of dementia and limited preventive interventions.
- At 4 years, relative to controls, adults participating in continuing education (minimum 12 months of part-/full-time university study) were more likely to have an increase in cognitive reserve (92.5% vs 55.7%; P<.01>
- Language processing increased in continuing education group, decreased in control group (P<.01>
- Groups not significantly different on episodic memory, working memory, executive function.
- All systematic reviews found participation in cognitively stimulating leisure activities associated with reduced dementia incidence, improved cognitive test performance.
- Study focusing on adults aged ≥45 years with normal cognition:
- Systematic review of 2 publications from ongoing prospective cohort study of continuing education among 459 adults (mean age, 59.6 years in education group, 62.4 years in control group).
- Overview of 5 systematic reviews of cognitive leisure activities and dementia (913 to 24,554 adults).
- Main outcomes: mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s dementia.
- Funding: Danube University Krems, Austria.
- Low certainty of evidence.
- Wide variation in measurement, types of cognitive leisure activities.
- Quantitative analyses often not possible.
- Majority of systematic reviews had methodologic issues.