How mental effort can build a cognitive reserve against brain ageing

THEY were considered flukes. Older people found upon their deaths to have brains full of the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease, yet who had shown no signs of cognitive decline while alive. But then more cases appeared, and yet more. Something was protecting these people whose mental faculties remained bright, despite them facing the same destruction in their brain as others with memory loss, confusion and other symptoms of dementia.

As more brains were analysed, it was discovered that these cases aren’t rare. Up to 30 per cent of older people have enough plaques and tangles to be…

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