MUNICH, Germany, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Formal education diminishes the impact of Alzheimer's disease on cognition even if brain volume loss has occurred, researchers in Germany say.
Dr. Robert Perneczky of Technische Universitat Munchen in Germany said formal education modifies the association between brain damage -- loss of brain volume indicated via magnetic resonance imaging scans -- and clinical symptoms of dementia.
"We know that there is not always a close association between brain damage due to Alzheimer's disease and the resulting symptoms of dementia," Perneczky said in a statement.
"In fact, there are individuals with severe brain pathology with almost no signs of dementia, whereas others with only minor brain lesions exhibit a considerable degree of clinical symptoms."
These phenomena are described as cognitive reserve -- a high level of cognitive reserve results in a strong individual resilience against symptoms of brain damage, Perneczky said.
The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, show the modifying effect of formal education is robust enough to reduce the negative effects of structural brain damage on cognitive function.