This study seems to throw in some insights regarding one’s thinking abilities and what affects them. A new study claims that an elevated level of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation in the blood could be linked to brain alterations that may be connected to issues with executive thinking skills.

For the study, experts investigated roughly 447 stroke and dementia-free people with an average age of 63. Volunteers had to go through MRI brain scans like diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a method that seems to gauge water molecule movements in the brain. They also finished tests that apparently computed verbal memory, word fluency and executive function, the procedure in the brain that enables planning, decision making and choosing of suitable behavior.

The study discovered that elevated levels of CRP apparently resulted in worse performance in executive function. High levels of the protein also seems to have affected the frontal lobe of the brain, where a few motor functions occur. Motor skills, nevertheless, were not gauged in the study. Other regions of cognition like memory and language skills appeared to exhibit no link to CRP.

By and large, the standard time to finish a test of executive function was said to be roughly 85 seconds. Those with the maximum levels of CRP apparently took an average of seven seconds longer to finish the test as opposed to those with the lowest levels of the protein. The brain alterations that were gauged with DTI seemed to be corresponding to 12 years of aging for those with the maximum levels of CRP as against those with the lowest levels.

Study author Heike Wersching, MD, with the University of Münster in Germany mentioned that the use of aspirin and statin drugs as well as physical activity and controlling weight can help lower CRP levels in the body, but their analysis did not consider whether therapy would be effective or not.

The study would be published in the issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.