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Study links adolescent IQ/activity levels with risk of dementia

Your IQ and extracurricular interests as a teenager may forecast your memory and thinking abilities decades later.

A new study by researchers at the University Memory and Aging Center, affiliated with Case Western Reserve University (Case) and University Hospitals of Cleveland (UHC), found that persons who were more active in high school and who had higher IQ scores, were less likely to have mild memory and thinking problems and dementia as older adults. Their results are published in the July 2005 issue of The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Said Thomas Fritsch, Ph.D., the study's lead author, "We found that, controlling for gender and education level, higher adolescent IQ and greater activity level were each independently associated with a lower risk for dementia and mild cognitive impairments. Conversely, those who were lower on the IQ continuum and who participated in fewer activities in high school had a higher risk of cognitive impairments."

Dementia broadly refers to neurological conditions that cause decline in memory and thinking abilities (cognition) and the ability to perform activities of daily living. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in persons 65 years and older. According to estimates from the Alzheimer's Association, 4.5 million people have Alzheimer's nationally.

"The findings may help scientists in their efforts to understand the earliest roots of dementia," said Fritsch. "The knowledge gained from our research may also be useful to those who are developing models of AD. Such models might provide clues as to when it's best to try intervene with new therapies and treatments for persons with memory problems. The findings may also help those who are seeking ways to prevent the development of memory problems in adulthood."

The Case researchers used historical data from high school records and yearbooks from the mid-1940s to create a picture of the students' abilities and
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Contact: George Stamatis
George.Stamatis@case.edu
216-368-3635
Case Western Reserve University
1-Jul-2005


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