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The brains of people whose work involves complex social interactions are best at weathering the ravages of aging, including Alzheimer’s disease.
That’s the conclusion of new research out of the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, which is part of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.
Examples of jobs that involving complex social interactions with others include:
For the study, researchers examined brain scans of 284 people enrolled in a long-running Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention study. The participants’ average age was about 60, and they were at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s due to having a parental family history of the disease.
The researchers also examined the complexity of the study participants’ jobs and whether they primarily worked with people, data or things.
They found that the participants who “had complex jobs working with people were cognitively healthy, even though their brains showed higher numbers of white matter lesions, which are markers of Alzheimer’s and cerebrovascular disease,” as a press release explains it.
The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, taking place this week in Toronto. Findings from two similar studies also were presented.
Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, said of those three studies collectively:
“These new data add to a growing body of research that suggests more stimulating lifestyles, including more complex work environments with other people, are associated with better cognitive outcomes in later life. … It is becoming increasingly clear that in addition to searching for pharmacological treatments, we need to address lifestyle factors to better treat and ultimately prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”
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