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Cognitive reserve as a predictor of healthy aging

Valenciano-Mendoza & Guàrdia-Olmos

"Cognitive Reserve as a Predictor of Healthy Ageing", a working paper by MA Eduardo Valenciano and Professor Joan Guardia, both members of SIforAGE, provides some insights on how the brain adapts to impairment and offer a set of recommendations to favour cognitive reserve.  According to the authors, many studies show that some people can tolerate brain damage for a longer time without showing external signs of damage. The concept of cognitive reserve emerges as a useful and interesting approach to explain this phenomenon. Their paper attempts to describe the state of the question as regards the cognitive reserve. It refers to an active process by which the brain adapts itself to a situation of impairment by using cognitive resources in order to compensate this impairment. It is a concept that cannot be measured directly but through indirect indicators. The most common indicators to measure the cognitive reserve are: level of education, occupation attainment and lifestyle. Many studies suggest that high values in these indicators go together with a high level of cognitive reserve and, therefore, play an important protective function against the development of dementia. The authors conclude their article with a set of practical recommendations to stimulate the cognitive reserve and age healthy.

Valenciano, E. & Guardia, J. (2014). Cognitive Reserve as a Predictor of Healthy Ageing.

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SIforAGE Science Corner: David Bartrés

David Bartrés

Prof. David Bartrés, neuropsychologist at University of Barcelona and the Institut of Biomedical Research August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), presents his findings on the relation between education and cognitive abilities among healthy older people.

Arenaza, E.M.; Landeau, B.; La Joie, R.; Meyel, K. ; Mézenge, F. ; Perrotin, A. ; Desgranges, B. ; Bartrés, D. ; Eustache, F. & Chétalet, G. (In Press). Relationships between years of education and gray matter volume, metabolism and functional connectivity in healthy elders. Neuroimage.

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SIforAGE Science Corner: Josep Samitier

Josep Samitier

Josep Samitier is a Professor at the University of Barcelona and Director of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). This institute works in the development of new technologies for health, diagnosis systems and new methods for therapy. Josep Samitier is specialized in nanotechnology for health which consists in using very small materials as means to develop new methods of diagnosis and treatments.  He is currently developing a new system towards an early detection of symptoms of Alzheimer disease.

Mir, M., , Bogachan, I., Valle, J.J.Fernández, X. and Samitier, J. (2012). In vitro study of magnetic-amyloid β complex formation. Nanomedicine:NBM, 8, 974-980

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SIforAGE Science Corner presentation

Montserrat Guillén

Prof. Montserrat Guillén, director of the Research Group on Risk in Insurance and Finance from University of Barcelona, talks about the need to face financial uncertainties after retirement. Prof. Guillén presents her line of research on how to deal with the financial needs of the elderly after retirement and the uncertainties inherent in longevity and the quality of life of old people.

Guillén, M. & Comas, A. (2012). How Much Risk Is Mitigated by LTC Protection Schemes. A Methodological Note and a Case Study of the Public System in Spain. The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance-Issues and Practice, 37, 712-724.

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SIforAGE Science Corner presentation

Esteve Gudayol

Dr. Esteve Gudayol, Professor at the Faculty of Psychology at Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, presents a research by Prof. Eskes team on the contribution of engaging in mental stimulating activities and phyisical fitness in preventing cognitive declines among post-menopausal women.

Eskes, G. A., Longman, S., Brown, A.D., McMorris, C.A., Langdon, K. D., Hogan, D.B., & Poullin, M. (2013). Contribution of physical fitness, cerebrovascular reserve and cognitive stimulation to cognitive function in post-menopausal women. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, vol. 2, article 137, pp. 1-7.

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SIforAGE Science Corner presentation

David Facal

David Facal, researcher at the Department of Developmental Psychology in University of Santiago de Compostela, introduces some innovative advances of his research team on lexical access among elderly people.

Dr. Facal explains there are two main changes in lexical access that affect individuals when they grow older: namely certain declain within lexical processes (e.g. the inability to find proper words) and a change in the range of vocabulary used.

Learn more about these interesting processes in the video above!

Facal, D., Juncos-Rabadán ,O., Rodríguez, M.S., Pereiro, A.X. (2012).  Tip-of-the-tongue in aging: influence of vocabulary, working memory  and processing speed. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 24(6),  647-656. doi: 10.3275/8586.

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SIforAGE Science Corner presentation

Mara Dierssen

Mara Dierssen, neurobiologist at the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, presents her paper about the relationship between two different pathological processes: Down syndrome and Alzheimer disease. Down syndrome people show the neuropathological signs of Alzheimer disease which means that most of these people show dementia very early in their lives. This is due to the fact that some of the genes that are present in the chromosomal region that is responsible for Down syndrome are also altered in Alzheimer disease. The results of the research have also highlighted that there are not only pharmacological but also environmental therapies that can modulate these genes's levels of expression. Therefore, this means that if we can maintain elderly people in rich environments with good social contacts and mental training we will be targeting those genes that are responsible for Alzheimer disease.

Ferrer, I., Barrachina, M., Puig, B., Martínez de Lagrán, M., Martí, E., Ávila, J. & Dierssen, M. (2005). Constitutive Dyrk1A is abnormally expressed in Alzheimer disease, Down syndrome, Pick disease, and related transgenic models. Neurobiology of Disease, 20, 392-400.



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Age Against the Machine

Simon Zadek

In Age Against the Machine, Simon Zadek claims that given the demographic shift, it is necessary to turn the growing number of older people worldwide into modernity’s gift rather than society’s burden. According to INSEAD’s Global Innovation Index, two thirds of the world’s 25 most innovative countries are among the most aged societies. In this regard, an a priori unfavorable demographic scene may become a redress toward innovation. Indeed, despite aging, these countries will remain competitive by capitalizing people’s ability to remain productive. The argument is that some characteristics of the eldest make them a valuable task force inside and outside the workplace. According to the author, they are more loyal, learn new processes and beyond their workplace provide finance support for their families. As an example, Zadek shows that according to America’s fastest-growing tech start-up in 2009 according to Forbes magazine was founded by a 68-year-old serial inventor in 1984. Notwithstanding, old people role in the labor market is being undermined and removing the possibility of making aging a gift of developed societies instead of its burden.

On the other side, he claims that paternalistic politics such those in the European Union worsen the problem; making older people no longer be part of the public life, but contribute to unsustainability and worse economic growth.

To tackle this problem in the correct direction, the author introduces the problem of the demographic shift. While life expectancy is rising in the developed countries, the birth rate in under-developed and developed countries, such as China, is worsening this global challenge. Therefore, the author final claim is that given the situation and its prospects, disregard older people economic value will be counterproductive and will worsen the global demographic challenge.  

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