It has long been held that, as far as the brain goes, one should 'use it or lose it'.
Scientists from New Jersey have now very elegantly displayed this in people with MS. Using functional MRI, where it is possible to view parts of the brain that are being used for certain activities, they demonstrated that people with MS with intellectual enrichment, that is those with higher educational level, vocabulary, etc (as a marker of how much use they used their brains), were protected against loss of cognitive function. They showed that this involved the development of the brain's default network, that is the parts of the brain not commonly used day-to-day, but used a lot in intellectual pursuits.
The research suggests that it may be possible to use 'brain-training' (cognitive strategy training) to minimise the impact of the cognitive decline that is usually seen with MS as the disease progresses.
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