Can an Intellectually Active Lifestyle Provide Benefits Against Huntington’s Disease? This Study Says Yes

According to a story from news-medical.net, a team of researchers has found that patients who are more intellectually active can slow the neurodegeneration that appears in Huntington’s disease. Such as lifestyle was found to delay the beginning of symptoms and the loss of gray matter. These findings suggest that, much like the body, regular intense use of the brain in mental exercise can provide benefits much in the same way that physical exercise can.

About Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is a heritable disorder that causes brain cells to die. This is a long term, progressive, and ultimately lethal disease that causes severe debilitation over time. The disease is caused by a genetic mutation that affects the HTT gene. It normally appears between 30 and 50 years, but in rare cases is can occur before age 20. Symptoms of Huntington’s may first appear as subtle mood and behavioral changes and loss of coordination. Other symptoms include random movements called chorea, abnormal posture, sleep issues, trouble chewing, swallowing, and speaking, dementia, anxiety, depression, and impulsivity. Nine percent of deaths are the result of suicide. Treatment for Huntington’s disease is symptomatic, with no cure or disease altering therapies available. Most patients die around 15 to 20 years after their diagnosis. To learn more about Huntington’s disease, click here.

About The Study

The study found that patients who had higher overall cognitive activity during their lifetime were able to perform better on neuropsychological tests in comparison to other Huntington’s disease patients. Specifically, brain atrophy of the caudate nucleus, an area of the brain that is heavily affected by this illness, was reduced. To assess intellectual activity, the researchers took into account a number of factors, such as education level, reading activity, occupation, and the number of languages that a person knew.

These results suggest that cognitive exercise could play a more significant role in the management of neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington’s than previously thought. The findings also suggest that more research into the benefits of an intellectually engaged lifestyle should be conducted.

Check out the original study here.


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