Merrily Orsini's Thought Leadership

Diversify activities to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s

Not one of us who has reached 65 is not in fear of getting Alzheimer’s, and every forgotten item and word recall problem is an inward sign that mild cognitive impairment has set in. A new study showcases how important it is to continue to try new things and not get stuck in that rut.

“Diversifying the mental space that you explore may actually decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s,” is one finding of a new study supported by the National Institute on Aging, the Alexander Family Alzheimer’s Disease Research Professorship of the Mayo Foundation, and Alzheimer’s Association New Investigator grant.

“Our understanding of those objects and pathways is limited,” says lead author David T. Jones, M.D. “There are regions in the brain that correspond to those objects, and we are not really clear exactly what those are. We need a good mapping or atlas of those regions that make up the network in the brain, which is part of what we were doing in this study.”

This new Mayo Clinic Study of Aging set out to create an active map of the almost 900 subjects’ brains while they were “at rest,” and not engaged in a specific task. They were looking for a road map as to how people think, and to do this, they employed “task-free, functional magnetic resonance imaging” and constructed an atlas of 68 functional regions of the brain. These regions corresponded to the “cities” on the road map.

This confirms and solidifies a great reason to a) keep working b) play games and c) look for exciting new activities to keep the brain working.