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Alzheimer's Progresses Faster in Educated People 226

Posted by Zonk
from the dumber-they-are-the-softer-they-fall dept.
Nrbelex writes "Bloomberg news is reporting that 'High levels of education speeds up the progression of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in next month's issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Mental agility dropped every year among Alzheimer's disease patients with each additional year of education, leading to an additional 0.3 percent deterioration, the researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York found. The speed of thought processes and memory were particularly affected.'"
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Alzheimer's Progresses Faster in Educated People

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:20AM (#14741743)
    The first thought that came into my mind when I read this: if you have more (mental ability) and the end result of Alzheimer is the same for all people, then you will lose it (mental ability) faster...
    • The first thought that came into my mind when I read this: if you have more (mental ability) and the end result of Alzheimer is the same for all people, then you will lose it (mental ability) faster...

      That's assuming they get to the end point at the same time, which may not be true.
      • The first thought that came into my mind when I read this: if you have more (mental ability) and the end result of Alzheimer is the same for all people, then you will lose it (mental ability) faster...

        That's assuming they get to the end point at the same time, which may not be true.


        The end point of Alzheimers is death. Yes, it's true.

        But you raise a good followup research study question there.

        Remember that the data is observed over many years, partially through other people's observations, and measurements
    • It's like saying rich people suffer greater economic losses from theft.

      If I stole Bill Gates' lunch money, he'd still have plenty of dough left.
    • After I read this story, I couldn't get a line from Blade Runner out of my head: "A candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long."

      I guess there was more truth there than the authors realized. /somber
      • by shorgs (874640) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:13PM (#14742675)
        Please don't mistake education for intelligence.

        This study is really saying that in cases where people have been socially conditioned for a longer period of time are better able to fend off Alzheimer's for longer periods.

        Genius is usually associated with strange social behavior or thinking and just a step away from madness. Educated people are predictable and controllable and well...social.

        They are just more structured, maybe that structure just helps them hang on a bit longer before they fall. I get the feeling that all the commentators are mistaking "knowing things" with being intelligent.
      • by kaiidth (104315) on Friday February 17, 2006 @01:20PM (#14743336)
        Actually it seems to be a little weirder than that. [bbc.co.uk]

        The researchers said one possible explanation is what has been dubbed the "cognitive reserve" theory.

        This holds that highly educated people either have a greater number of nerve connections in their brains, or the nerve connections that they have are more efficient.

        Therefore, when the damaging changes associated with Alzheimer's - such as the deposition of toxic protein clumps - start to take place, educated people are better placed to resist their effect at first.

        However, the subsequent impact is likely to be greater than it would be in less educated brains, because of the higher levels of accumulated damage.


        In other words (I think), educated people simply don't show the effects of Alzheimers as fast. By the time anybody notices that anything is wrong, a great deal of damage already exists. So since it is already at a later stage when you first notice it, it looks from the outside as though the person has very quickly reached an advanced stage of Alzheimers. Instead, they have been resisting Alzheimers for ages.

        There was a New Scientist article about this...

      • After I read this story, I couldn't get a line from Blade Runner out of my head: "A candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long."

        And some candles are bigger than others.
    • Same thought that I had, although I worded it as follows:
      If you have more to lose, and you are set to the same level as someone with less to lose, you have lost more.

      The statistics are probably fine, but the analysis seems flawed.
  • Makes Sense (Score:2, Funny)

    by jimbolauski (882977)
    The more you put in the more you can lose. I for one am calling for a general ban on learning.
  • Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by se2schul (667721) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:20AM (#14741747)
    ...educated people have more to forget.
    • So what (Score:3, Funny)

      by TiggertheMad (556308)
      Even if this research proved to be accurate, Slashdot readers have nothing to worry about.
    • One of the lowest rates of Alzheimer's appears in Indian villages,
      with only 1% of people 65 and older having the condition.

      The specific ingredient has been narrowed down to tumeric, the
      spice often used in spicy mustard .

      A recent study suggests that the reason might be a diet high in curcumin,
      a compound found in turmeric which is used in curry, which has long been
      used as an herbal treatment in that country.

      http://www.alz.org/News/04Q4/122304.asp [alz.org]

      Once again nature provides, I wonder what other cures simple gro
    • Educated people probably have more of what they measure, hence the increase. Uneducated people probably forget at the same rate, but since what they are forgetting is not being measured it shows up as an increase in ability in educated people.
  • by creimer (824291) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:21AM (#14741751) Homepage
    So the disease is less damaging if you're more stupid than the average college graduate. Is that why they been dumbing down K-12 education for years to protect the general public's health?
    • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother AT optonline DOT net> on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:28AM (#14741821) Journal

      From Bloomberg UK: Previous studies have shown that people with high levels of education are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. The new study shows that the brains of more educated people can tolerate changes for longer periods of time, meaning signs of decreased mental agility typical of Alzheimer's disease appear later. When those signs do appear, the disease progresses faster than it does in less educated patients.

      So the results of this one study don't mean much. If all previous research shows the opposite, then either a) this study is flawed and the conclusions inaccurate or b) this study uses new methodology, breaks new ground, and has discovered a new series of conditions for Alzheimer's propogation. The results won't be conclusive until more studies of this same type are produced verifying these results.

      • No, read what you quoted again. The new study doesn't contradict previous studies at all. Indeed, it's not even studying the same thing.

        "Previous studies have shown that people with high levels of education are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease."

        In other words, there is a negative correlation between education level and developing Alzheimer's.

        "The new study shows that the brains of more educated people can tolerate changes for longer periods of time, meaning signs of decreased mental agil

        • No, read what you quoted again. The new study doesn't contradict previous studies at all. Indeed, it's not even studying the same thing.

          Faux pas; I didn't parse out the meaning of the sentence properly. I retract my statement.

      • Uhm... Did you actually *read* what you pasted?

        They are comparing the progression of the disease *after* the signs have been detected. People with higher levels of education manage to tolerate the effects of the disease longer before the signs appear. Thus Alzheimer is detected at later stages in those people.

        If you are rolling down a hill and realize what's happening later than the others, you'll find yourself going faster.
  • by Wolfier (94144) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:21AM (#14741753)
    Regardless of education, the disease takes the same amount of time to degrade you to a mindless, insensitive clod with the same lower mental ability?

    Braking from 100 km/h to 0 in 5 seconds is a harder deceleration than from 30 km/h to 0 in 5 seconds, for sure.
    • Exactly right. The degradation could simply be more visible in the educated, who in some ways had "more to lose."

      Besides, 0.3 percent difference sounds awfully low. I highly doubt that their margin of error could have even been close to this, given that these are human subjects, after all.
  • that you just don't notice it in ignorant people?
  • by dcw3 (649211) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:24AM (#14741776) Journal
    From TFA:
    Previous studies have shown that people with high levels of education are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. The new study shows that the brains of more educated people can tolerate changes for longer periods of time, meaning signs of decreased mental agility typical of Alzheimer's disease appear later. When those signs do appear, the disease progresses faster than it does in less educated patients.

    So, the more educated are actually less likely to have symptoms at the same age. I'm curious how they measured the drop off in ability, and the article doesn't say.
    • The most worthwhile comment so far on the whole thread.

      The previous studies have shown that people with high levels of education are less likely to develop the disease, which was interesting and a bit mystifying.

      This study shows that perhaps that's not really what's going on. Perhaps something about education that makes you more resistant to the disease and more able to compensate for the slow decline it induces, but once you do start declining, it happens faster. The two studies together make a lot of sense and point to a mechanism. Either taken alone seems a bit strange.

      • I agree. Sounds like a misleading study. Mental agility is hard to measure across populations with simple tests - even when educated people start to lose a little, they often still perform well in tests as they have more 'reserve'. I imagine that there's probably a great deal of similarity in the amount of brain cells lost, but that the educated can continue to perform well in the tests as they can compensate. In the later stages of the disease, their reserve is exhausted and they decline faster. This agree
        • you seem to be confusing the study and the slashdot summary. The researchers in the study are well aware of the other research, according to TFA, and are in fact saying basically what you just said... that alzhiemers strikes the educated at the same time as noneducated, but that the educated are better at compensating for it, thus exhibit their first symptoms later. By that time the disease has progressed far enough that they can no longer compensate, and quickly reach levels of impairment comparable to t
    • If you look further into the study, you will notice that educated people tend to to manifest symptoms of Alzheimers later. So, if it progresses at a faster rate, is that really any worse? Additional consideration are studies that indicate people who keep their minds active slow down the progression of Alzheimers. A good article that discusses nuns who packed more ideas into the sentences of their early autobiographies were less likely to get Alzheimer's disease six decades later is at:

      http://www.neuroanatom [wisc.edu]
  • by slyborg (524607) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:24AM (#14741778)
    How happy is a moron
    No need to understand
    I wish I was a moron
    My God! perhaps I am!
  • Bogus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:25AM (#14741781)
    The findings are bogus: they cite a 0.3% difference between more highly educated Alzheimer's patients and their counterparts. The counterargument is that plenty of people who wound normally go to grad school insead choose to work in industry. This small lifestyle difference for four years in a subject's late twenties should not effect tests given at age 65+. More likely is that some other factor is introduced by lifestyle differences between the two major career paths.
    • Re:Bogus (Score:4, Informative)

      by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:40AM (#14741914) Homepage
      The findings are bogus: they cite a 0.3% difference between more highly educated Alzheimer's patients and their counterparts. The counterargument is that plenty of people who wound normally go to grad school insead choose to work in industry. This small lifestyle difference for four years in a subject's late twenties should not effect tests given at age 65+. More likely is that some other factor is introduced by lifestyle differences between the two major career paths.

      Well, it is already established that more educated people have a lower risk [nih.gov] of Alzheimer's, and a later onset [nih.gov]. This study, however, follows a few hundred already diagnosed patients for five years, and notes that the rate of cognitive decline is faster in the more educated patients. Probably they just didn't have enough coffee [nih.gov] Be a little more interesting when the study itself is available instead of the press release.
      • Well, it is already established that more educated people have a lower risk of Alzheimer's, and a later onset. This study, however, follows a few hundred already diagnosed patients for five years, and notes that the rate of cognitive decline is faster in the more educated patients. Probably they just didn't have enough coffee Be a little more interesting when the study itself is available instead of the press release.

        Personally, I think they should all just move to Seattle and drink more coffee.

        Oh, wait, th
    • More likely is that some other factor is introduced by lifestyle differences between the two major career paths.

      I'd be curious to see how this study lines up with those that suggest that regular physical activity helps to fend off such degenerative neural problems. That might tie in with the more sedentary existence that many white-collar types find themselves living as they become "knowledge" workers sitting at a desk. You know: the types that, instead of a brisk walk, take a break from working in front
    • The counterargument is that plenty of people who wound normally go to grad school insead choose to work in industry. This small lifestyle difference for four years in a subject's late twenties should not effect tests given at age 65+.

      Unless you're like the so many of us who are past our late twenties and still in grad school. :)
  • 0.3%?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phlegmofdiscontent (459470) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:25AM (#14741791)
    That's hardly significant. Statistically, you can't really call that a correlation. If you were told that high water intake causes .3% more cancer, you'd laugh. That's the problem with medical studies in the media. A slight increase in disease due to some factor is greeted with all kinds of FUD. Hell, even placebos typically have a 5 to 10% effect on things.
    • Re:0.3%?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:42AM (#14741930) Journal
      Beyond the fact that the news here isn't the 0.3%, it's the fact that a significant effect in the opposite direction was expected...

      Every time a study is linked here, somebody starts spouting off about a sample of N people can't be significant or how some small effect size can't be significant. That's not how statistical significance works.

      For the youngsters here, I'd strongly recommend taking time out from your CS classes to take an introductory stat class....

      • At Virginia Tech, we're required to take the highest-level statistics course offered by the University as part of the requirements for a CS degree.
    • "That's hardly significant. Statistically, you can't really call that a correlation."

      Ok, Statty Mc Statenstein, do the math for us. I've included a handy link to test for significance, all you have to do is plug in the numbers and give us your answers.

      http://www.coolth.com/siginsig.htm [coolth.com]
      http://www.infoworks.ride.uri.edu/2000/techbrief/t echbrief5.htm [uri.edu]
      http://www.visualstatistics.net/Visual%20Statistic s%20Multimedia/z_square_ratio.htm [visualstatistics.net]

      Since we all like to have facts that support our arguments, all you have to d
    • That's hardly significant. Statistically, you can't really call that a correlation.

      That's just wrong. Unless you see the data and their analysis technique, you really don't know how the conclusions were reached. In their paper, you would expect to find a section on how data was collected, the assumptions being made, and the statistical methods used to draw their conclusions. Correlation isn't an on/off phenomenem, there can be weak correlation and strong correlation. Just because there is a weak cor
    • In the article, they state that the researchers studied 315 people and from that they got an extra 0.3% decline in mental ability. 315 people! Even Gallup polls survey more than 1000 people and they typically have a margin of error of 3%. I'm not a statistician, but I am a physics graduate and the rule of thumb I've always used is that anything less than a 3% deviation isn't significant, unless you've got a ton of data. 315 people showing an additional 0.3% decline (that's 1 part in 300) just doesn't cu
  • Maybe the deterioration is just not noticeable.

    Like this .. say you have half full jar of water .. and well it starts deteriorating from the top part downwards .. well then you won't notice any loss of water until the jar deteriorates to the half-way point.

    If the jar was full .. the deterioration would be noticed faster.

    Or, maybe the "undeducated" have more redundancy built in, which is probably why some of them hold on to what the educated consider "strange" beliefs.

    I'm just speculating here. Also, as a tr
  • Claude Shannon, the father of Information Theory [wikipedia.org], died of Alzheimer's just a few years ago. He was certainly very well educated, and apparantly did indeed suffer quite a bit [mit.edu] with the disease.
  • yeah ok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:28AM (#14741816) Homepage
    anything that claims to measure "an additional 0.3% deterioration" can't be taken seriously.  Please come back when your measure of 'mental ability' is so precise you can make a claim like this. 
  • I'm lost (Score:2, Funny)

    by Caiwyn (120510)
    So... us 7-year undergraduates are more at risk, or less?
    • Haha, n00b! I'm working on my 15th year in college!

      Er... though I still don't have my MS. (Done in May. *crossfingers*)

      Does this make me "more" educated, because of the total time involved, or "less" because I've spread it all out over such a long period of time? (low [credits/year] average.)

      Perhaps it has already begun.
      Anyone hiring ElecEngs? I'll only be there a bit before retirement!

      Where's my teeth?!
  • Not so fast.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mustafap (452510) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:28AM (#14741822) Homepage
    I also watched an interview on the BBC where another group of researchers pointed out that these results *may* be because the onset of deterioration is more easy to spot in educated people, simply because they have 'further to fall' so to speak.

    The actual rate of decline, they claimed, is no different.
  • by hal2814 (725639) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:29AM (#14741831)
    So how exactly is this being measured? From what I can find, all the story mentions is:

    "All the patients underwent around four neurological assessments, each of which comprised a dozen separate tests of brain function."

    Given that Alzheimers affects everyone in different ways, I guess I'm just a little leery of a study that's claiming that it can quantitatively compare the mental facilities of one victim to another.
    • "Given that Alzheimers affects everyone in different ways..."

      Actually, "Alzheimer's disease" affects people in relatively similar ways, whereas "dementia" affects everyone in different ways. This is because "Alzheimer's disease" is one *very specific* type of "dementia." Simply because one is "demented" does not imply they have "Alzheimer's disease." Other forms of dementia include Vascular Dementia, Parkinson's Dementia, Diffuse Lewy Body Disease, Korsakoff's Dementia, etc... (to name just a few). Know
    • So how exactly is this being measured? From what I can find, all the story mentions is:

      "All the patients underwent around four neurological assessments, each of which comprised a dozen separate tests of brain function."


      Well, let's see, there's a Physical evaluation, Hachinski Ischemic Scale, UPDRS Motor Exam, Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR), Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), Behavioral Assesment - Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Functional Assessment (FAQ), Clinicial Judgement of Symptoms Onset, Neur
  • This does not surprise. With less education, there is
    also less to deteriorate. Its like saying, that people
    doing professional sports have a faster decay of their
    muscle power when aging and base this on the time to run
    one mile. The study measures it in
    percentages but I guess, it is very difficult to
    deteriorate basic intellectual skills.
    It all depends on the scale.
  • As people with higher education usually have jobs that demands more mental stress, it may be linked to that.
  • Perhaps this is an indication of how and why Alzheimer's occurs - neurological burnout. Maybe neurons have a finite amount of use in addition to a finite lifespan?
  • by Havokmon (89874)
    All you college grads can take my HS diploma and suck it! :P

    Of course... what do they REALLY mean by educated? I mean, I would be doing myself a disfavor if I claimed someone with a college degree was better at my job than I just because of a piece of paper - so is it actually due to brain usage, or is it because I didn't soak my brain in drugs and alcohol for 4 years?

  • Continued higher education is the process of learning more and more about less and less, until one knows everything about nothing.

    This state is commonly known as the Ph.D.

  • I think there are a number of things to consider about this information:

    1) As has been pointed out in the comments, educated folks have more to lose, and (arguably) notice it sooner than less-endowed folks.
    2) The thought processes of (most) educated folks are (arguably) more "conscious & deliberate" rather than "habitual", and therefore would be more succeptable to the Alz. degradation - and more noticeable to the victim. From personal experience (Mom-now) I can state that the thought and behavioral "ha
  • It shows that people who eat solid food, are prone to die.

    This sort of garbage is what makes researchers look bad.
  • Isn't that generally considered data noise, especially when dealing with organic systems?
  • It seems that there's a natural defense [cihr-irsc.gc.ca] against Alzheimer's Disease:

    . . . bone marrow-derived microglia infiltrate amyloid plaques and succeed in destroying them most efficiently. These newly-recruited immune cells are specifically attracted by the amyloid proteins that are the most toxic to nerve cells.

    Basically it's saying that the microglia in the brain try to destroy the plaques that cause the symptoms of the disease. For whatever reason, the microglia in the brain aren't very effective, but those

  • ...but hey, at least I don't have Alzheimer's! :)
  • Isn't that well within the margin of error?
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:54AM (#14742021) Homepage
    This is interesting. I would love to see a comparison between those with traditional American educations (which I assume is what this study focused on) and those who are similarly capable (perhaps who hold similar titles in similarly challenging fields), but who have followed less traditional paths in learning.

    For example, I can point to five people at my current job - each a very skilled software engineer, and each very skilled in debating other topics in current events; among those five people are 1 PhD, 2 Masters, 1 college drop-out, and 1 high school drop out. The one thing we all agree on? Much of traditional American education has become primarily a matter of rote memorization - there is very little teaching of theory and problem solving involved.

    Further, I saw a different study some years ago that showed a strong correlation between studying the arts late in life and delaying the onset of Alzheimers. Proficiency in the arts tends to require lots of understanding of abstract concepts, akin to studying theory in more technical fields, and requires little rote memorization.

    That is to say, is it possible that the study hit on people whose minds have become less plastic as a result of education? People whose brains have been conditioned to be crystalizable by massive repetition instead of adaptable to new situations? Or, to take the nature instead of nurture angle, was the study skewed heavy on people with more crystaline brains, because such people are more proficient in an educational environment heavy on rote memorization?
    • Much of traditional American education has become primarily a matter of rote memorization

      Has become? When did you go to school, 1875?

      I've been out of grade school for nearly 20 years now, and back then it was mostly rote memorization. My parents went to school nearly 50 years ago and it was even MORESO rote learning.

      How many kids today drill on multiplication tables? Learn physics primarily by memorizing 3,000 different formulae? Write book reports based soley on the ability to remember the events in the st
      • I should point out that most people developing Alzheimers today did, in fact, go to school a long time ago.

        Many develop the disease between 55 and 95, so let's take the median, which is 75 (actually, more like 72, since fewer people are 95 than 55), so they went to school from ages 6 to 18 or 6 to 24, which means they went to college in the 1940s or thereabouts.
  • It would seem to me that the more 'educated' a person is (not how smart a person is by any means) the more 'structured' his neural pathways might be. And if there is a more organized pattern in the way the brain operates, perhaps it would make sense that a disease of the brain would have an easier chance of settling in to do damage or that the effects of the damage would be more easily measured.

    Consider two fields. One is just an unmanaged bunch of grass, the other is cultivated and irrigated. Both field
  • Play more GO! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by J_Omega (709711) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:04AM (#14742086)

    Well, if you trust in anectodal evidence:
    http://users.eniinternet.com/bradleym/Mind.html [eniinternet.com] (Playing Go seems to "innoculate" one from Alzheimer's.)

    So... I'm looking for ways to not just delay, but AVOID such a debilitating disease.

    My body can fail me, and I'll accept it.
    If my mind goes, someone shoot me please.

  • There's been quite a few studies showing that the more 'intelligent' you are, or at least the more you excercise your brain, the less likely you are to be diagnosed with Alzheimers in the first place.

    One I particularly liked was of a Convent where before admission the nuns had to submit an essay on why the wanted to join. The essays were all kept. By comparing the essays of those who later died of Alzheimers with those who didn't it was show there was a stong negative correlation with increasing complexit
  • There are some contextual issues with the wording of this story's attention-getting headline. The sample of patients in the study was 312 people over 65, who had previously been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Of those 312 patients, those who had an extra year of education developed Alzheimer's later in life but when it did appear, it progressed more rapidly. So how many patients out of the 312 had that extra year? One? Six? Fifty? The article doesn't say. That matters, especially with such a tiny sample. It
  • As my grandpappy used to say (until dementia took over), "the good thing about alzheimers is that you can hide your own easter eggs."
  • I recently came across a research article on Nutra Ingredients that said properties of the black currant help fight memeory loss and Alzhiemers.

    http://www.theartofdrink.com/blog/2006/01/creme_de _cassis_kir.php [theartofdrink.com]

    A glass of Cassis a day, keeps the doctor away?
  • Now I can finally feel justified in using the phrase, "I've forgotten more than you know!"

  • Maybe it was all of that hairspray
  • http://www.newscientist.com/channel/health/mg18825 301.300.html [newscientist.com] This went on to explain that the same physical damage has less results in educated people, so when they do show symptoms at a recognised level the disease is already advanced.
  • Fortunately, several potential treatments for Alzheimer's are currently being developed, and a few are in trials already. eg. Elan's AAB-001, and AAC-001. We can but hope that this terrible disease will soon be defeated.
  • Misleading (Score:2, Interesting)

    Try http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4713570.stm [bbc.co.uk] for starters

    It's not that the disease progresses quicker, it is only after diagnosis it progresses quicker. This probably means that on average the disease starts at the same time but that it manifests itself earlier in 'uneducated' people.

    A theory is that educated people can 'route' around the disease better, so don't display external symptoms. Their education leads, on average, to them having more connections in their brain. However, a critical point i

  • This kind of statistical propoganda is ludicrous. It just goes to show you ... um ... um ... what was I saying? What were we talking about? Where am I? Who are you?
  • All the people in the study were over 65. That means around 40 or so years had passed since they graduated. That's a lot of time to turn into a potato.

    Just because you went through school in your 20's doesn't mean you keep on using your mind. From knowing some of the kids I see going to university today, I'd say there is very little proof that it means people use their minds during school. Heck, George Bush is an ivy league graduate, and it is very likely that he suffered brain damaged from all his booz
  • In the uneducated, you just can't tell the difference.
  • Another reason to skip class.. which I am doing right now.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Friday February 17, 2006 @02:48PM (#14744032) Homepage Journal
    They said:

    1. People with more education develop Alzheimers later; and
    2. People with more education take longer to deteriorate due to Alzheimer's but progress thru the symptoms faster.

    Based on the data (and there is no truth to me having a stack of Alzheimer's patient data and control data on my desk ... ok, maybe there is, but I'm NOT a PhD in the field, nor am I an M.D.), we could correctly visualize it this way:

    A. If you are highly educated, you may (or may not) have a long way to fall before your symptoms become obvious to others - the tests we have measure your abilities to do various tests, remember things, all kinds of stuff that you may develop strategies to compensate for given higher education (or don't develop strategies).

    B. If you start with a high level of ability, you have a longer way to fall before unable to complete tasks, but if the disease affects your neural pathways (and it does, and we do need more brains, so we can study that, got one to spare?) then going from 200 to 150 to 100 to 50 to dead is similar to going from 100 to 75 to 50 to 25 to dead. Same time, sharper fall. However, you may be more capable for a longer time. Note, I did not say IQ, but ability - not the same thing at all.

    Again, to get the real answers, you should read the original paper as published in the original scientific journal.

    But, in the end, seems the best thing you can do is:
    a. get some exercise, even if just gardening or walking to the grocery store to buy milk;
    b. increase your mental abilities, because then if you do start failing, you'll be capable much longer, which is better;
    c. realize that you have less than a 5 percent risk around 60-70 and a 20 percent risk around 90+
    d. you'll probably die from the massive storm caused from Global Warming kicking up the power on your Sunset cruise in the Caribbean when you retire anyway, so this is all moot.

This is a good time to punt work.

Working...