How to prevent cognitive disorders?

As we know it, an optimal state of physical and mental health acts as a preventive factor against cognitive disorders experienced with age. When we refer to the type of factors that prevent spoilage, we often refer to a concept called “reservations”. But … what do we know about cognitive reserve and brain reserve? What is its influence on deterioration?

In the next article we will talk about the types of reserves that our brain has and we will explain his contribution as preventive factor against deterioration.

Brain reserve and cognitive reserve

the reservation capacity is the one that allows the brain to cope with changes due to normal aging or neuropathological processes by delaying the onset of clinical symptoms.

According to Arenaza-Urquijo and Bartrés-Faç (2013) there are two interdependent theoretical models for the study of the reserve:

1. Brain reserve model

This type of reservation corresponds to the passive model, which refers to the anatomical potential of the brain: Brain size, number of neurons, synaptic density, etc. This type of reserve raises a static and invariable model, as it emphasizes genetic and anatomical factors.

2. Cognitive reserve model

Corresponds to the active or functional model, referenced the individual ability to use pre-existing or alternative cognitive processes or neural networks (Compensatory) to perform a task optimally. Because this reserve can be increased due to the influence of various environmental factors to which we are exposed throughout life (we will explain it later), one could say that this model, unlike the previous one, responds to a dynamic character.

What is the influence of the reserve on aging?

Now that we know the two types of reservations, vowners to explain their contribution to the aging processor, whether normal or pathological.

Brain reserve

Brains that have a large reserve they have a larger base substrate, Which will allow them a greater resistance to brain lesions before pathological phenomena or during aging, therefore promotes a prolongation of the preclinical state in the processes of predemencia and dementia (Arenaza-Urquijo and Bartrés-Faz, 2013) .

In terms of regulatory aging, higher reserve estimates will correspond to more structurally preserved brains.

Using neuroimaging techniques such as anatomical magnetic resonance imaging, we can detect brain changes in people with high cognitive reserve who they can serve as indicators in the face of a pathological disorder of old age before it has manifested clinically, as in Alzheimer’s disease.

Cognitive reserve

the cognitive reserve refers to cognitive processing capacity. Such a reserve makes it possible to use neural networks in an efficient way by trying to reduce the impact of changes associated with aging and neuropathological processes (Arenaza-Urquijo and Bartrés-Faz, 2013). We could say that cognitive reserve improves interneuronal plasticity and connectivity.

Through various research, it has been shown that a high cognitive reserve acts as a preventative factor against deterioration and, in the case of dementias, will generally delay the onset of symptoms and, therefore, the diagnosis. However, the underlying pathological progression will be the same regardless of their cognitive reserve, therefore, the symptoms will present themselves when the pathological process is more advanced and, therefore, disease progression will be faster once the threshold for clinical and brain damage is exceeded.

This is due to the fact a brain with a high cognitive reserve will present itself more easily for the use of alternative neural networks however, when the networks used are generally damaged, this compensation ends when the neurodegenerative disease becomes more severe (Pousada & De la Fuente, 2006).

In terms of regulatory aging, cognitive reserve implies better performanceA functionally more efficient brain, which is why it is important to maintain activities that stimulate our cognitive functions throughout life. In several studies (Arenaza-Urquijo and Bartrés-Faz, 2013), high levels of mental activity have been associated with an up to 50% lower risk of developing dementia.

so it is essential to consider cognitive training as an intervention to minimize the risk of cognitive impairment associated with age and / or dementia. It has also been shown that there are other types of environmental factors that contribute as a protective factor against cognitive decline, such as: physical and mental health, employment, hours of sleep, food, recreation and maintaining social relationships.

This type of resist can be analyzed by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or by positron emission tomography (PET).

some conclusions

In conclusion, reserve capacity has been shown to act as a protective factor against the manifestation of brain changes underlying the aging process or disease by tolerating further damage to their brain and, in turn, minimizing the impact of the disease on their clinical manifestations.

This fact is of great importance because, even if the underlying process is the same, the patient will maintain a quality of life for a longer time. The reserve, therefore, it turns out to be one of the many factors that demonstrate the reason for the inter-individual variability with regard to the symptomatic manifestation in the face of the same cerebral damage.

Therefore, it is interesting to stress the need for future research focused on the exhaustive study of specific activities that contribute to increase cognitive reserve and to analyze its consequent interaction with biological factors.

Bibliographical references:

  • Arenaza-Urquijo, EM and Bartrés-Faz, D. (2013). Cognitive reserve. In Redolar-Ripoll, D. (Ed.), Cognitive neurosciences (1st ed., Pp. 185-200). Madrid: Editorial Médica Panamericana.
  • Pousada, M. and De la Fuente, J. (2006). Memory and attention. In Villar, F., and Triadó, C., Psychology of old age (1ªed., Pp. 114-140). Madrid: Editorial Aliança, SA

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