Alzheimer's disease: Does high IQ slow progression?

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Alzheimer's disease: Does high IQ slow progression?

Question

Is it true that Alzheimer's disease advances more slowly in people with higher IQs? My father, who is a Ph.D., has had this disease for nine years and can still function pretty well.

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Answer

Not everyone with Alzheimer's disease will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate.

Some researchers believe that people with higher IQs or advanced education are more resilient to dementia than are those with lower IQs or less education. Other researchers argue that advanced education gives a person more experience with the types of memory and thinking tests used to measure dementia. This advanced level of education simply may help some people hide their condition longer. As a result, by the time such a person is diagnosed, he or she may actually decline more rapidly because the disease is more advanced at that point.

There's no evidence that high IQ or advanced education increases life span or survival rates in people with Alzheimer's disease.

Last Updated: 10/06/2006
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