HealthDay News — Lifetime intellectual enrichment is associated with delayed cognitive decline, according to research.

Prashanthi Vemuri, PhD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues conducted a prospective analysis to examine the correlation of lifetime intellectual enrichment with baseline cognitive performance and rate of cognitive decline. The findings were published in JAMA Neurology.

Participants in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging included 1,995 older individuals without dementia (1,718 cognitively normal and 277 with mild cognitive impairment). The effect of lifetime intellectual enrichment was assessed by separating the variables into two components: education/occupation score and mid/late-life cognitive activity.

The researchers found that older individuals, those with lower education/occupation score, lower mid/late-life cognitive activity, APOE genotype, and men had lower baseline cognitive performance (P<0.001).

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There was a significant interaction between the two intellectual enrichment measures (P<0.03); increasing education/occupation score correlated with a reduction in the beneficial effect of mid/late-life cognitive activity on baseline cognitive performance.

The onset of cognitive impairment was about 8.7 years later for APOE4 carriers with high lifetime intellectual enrichment versus low lifetime intellectual enrichment. Correlations for a longitudinal change in cognitive performance from baseline were significant for baseline age, mid/late-life cognitive activity, and APOE4 genotype (P<0.05). 

“Lifetime intellectual enrichment might delay the onset of cognitive impairment and be used as a successful preventive intervention to reduce the impending dementia epidemic,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosure: Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


  1. Vemuri P, et al. JAMA Neurology. 2014; doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.963