Education increases reserve against Alzheimer's disease--evidence from structural MRI analysis.
Liu Y., Julkunen V., Paajanen T., Westman E., Wahlund L-O., Aitken A., Sobow T., Mecocci P., Tsolaki M., Vellas B., Muehlboeck S., Spenger C., Lovestone S., Simmons A., Soininen H., AddNeuroMed Consortium None.
INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to determine whether years of schooling influences regional cortical thicknesses and volumes in Alzheimer's disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and healthy age-matched controls. METHODS: Using an automated image analysis pipeline, 33 regional cortical thickness and 15 regional volumes measures from MRI images were determined in 121 subjects with MCI, 121 patients with AD, and 113 controls from AddNeuroMed study. Correlations with years of schooling were determined and more highly and less highly educated subjects compared, controlling for intracranial volume, age, gender, country of origin, cognitive status, and multiple testing. RESULTS: After controlling for confounding factors and multiple testing, in the control group, subjects with more education had larger regional cortical thickness in transverse temporal cortex, insula, and isthmus of cingulate cortex than subjects with less education. However, in the AD group, the subjects with more education had smaller regional cortical thickness in temporal gyrus, inferior and superior parietal gyri, and lateral occipital cortex than the subjects with less education. No significant difference was found in the MCI group. CONCLUSION: Education may increase regional cortical thickness in healthy controls, leading to increased brain reserve, as well as helping AD patients to cope better with the effects of brain atrophy by increasing cognitive reserve.