Those who study longer in their youth have a lower risk of developing dementia, a study suggests.
In the study published Monday in the latest issue of the journal Brain, a joint research team from the U.K. and Finland said educated people are better able to cope with brain damage caused by dementia and thus are less affected by it. One extra year of schooling after finishing compulsory education can lower the risk of developing the disease by 11 percent, the team said.
"More education is not associated with any differences in the damage to the brain, but people with higher education can cope with that damage better," said Hanna Keage from Cambridge University, who worked on the study. This means while education cannot prevent the physical aging of the brain, it does help enhance one's ability to handle brain problems caused by old age.
The team examined the brains of 872 donors who had participated in long-term European studies on aging, which included information on their educational levels and lifestyles.
Among brains that showed similar levels of change associated with dementia, subjects with better educations had showed fewer symptoms of the disease. But scientists are still uncertain why this is the case.