Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is said to be the most common form of dementia among older people. Dementia is a brain disorder that may seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities. People may forget how to brush their teeth, comb their hair, may forget the names of their family members or even their own name.
Pertaining to Alzheimer’s, an interesting finding from a study conducted at the University of Hertfordshire has claimed that more highly educated Alzheimer patients have greater language impairments than less learned patients. This study also alleged that women with the disease apparently perform worse on language tasks, which has been usually linked with better performance in healthy women. This study was conducted by Amy Duncan, who is a postgraduate study expert at the University of Hertfordshire.
For this study, Amy Duncan apparently described her analysis of about 135 studies which supposedly checked verbal fluency and name retrieval in about 6,000 AD patients and over around 6,000 healthy controls.
Amy Duncan’s effort was overseen by Professor Keith Laws from the University’s School of Psychology. The experts looked at the extent of verbal impairment in AD patients and whether the severity of impairment may be linked to sex and education of the patient.
Professor Laws commented, “Our analyses revealed some intriguing sex differences in people with Alzheimer’s disease – with women surprisingly showing worse naming ability than men; and perhaps even more surprisingly, the more highly educated patients displayed deficits that were more severe than those seen in the less well-educated patients. The latter suggests that being better educated, rather than protecting you against Alzheimer’s disease, may in fact lead to worse outcomes on some measures.”
Amy Duncan added, “These surprising results perhaps give rationale for further research into the effects that sex and educational background have on different cognitive abilities in Alzheimer’s disease. It was a very interesting project to be involved in, and relevant for understanding the impairments people with this disease face. This is particularly significant as Alzheimer’s disease currently affects over 700,000 people in the UK and that two-thirds of these are women.”
The findings thus suggest that AD appears to cross the boundaries of education and gender.
This study was recently published in the international journal Cortex.