Harvard Gazette (March 6, 2013): Environment Counts, Alzheimer's Research Suggests

Publication Date: 
Wed, 03/06/2013

Previous studies have shown that keeping the mind active, exercising, and social interactions may help delay the onset of dementia in Alzheimer's patients. Now, a new study led by Dennis Selkoe, co-director of the Center for Neurologic Diseases in the Department of Neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), provides specific, pre-clinical scientific evidence supporting the concept that prolonged and intensive stimulation by an enriched environment - especially regular exposure to new activities - may have benefical effects in delaying one of the key negative factors in Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers at the Harvard-affiliated BWH used a wild-type mouse model when evaluating how the environment might affect Alzheimer's. Unlike other pre-clinical models use in Alzheimer's disease research, wild-type mice tend to more closely mimic the scenario of average humans developing the disease under normal environmental conditions, rather than being strongly geneticlally pre-disposed to the disease.

Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor of Neurology at BWH Shaomin Li was the first author on the study, which will be published online today in Neuron.