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Inflammation Response Lowers Cognitive Ability

A new study finds high levels of a blood protein marker for inflammation is linked to problems with planning, decision-making and appropriate behavior.

Researchers discovered C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation in the blood, is associated with problems in executive thinking.

For the study, scientists examined 447 stroke and dementia-free people with an average age of 63.

Participants underwent MRI brain scans such as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a technique that measures water molecule movements in the brain.

They also completed tests that measured verbal memory, word fluency and executive function, the process in the brain that allows for planning, decision-making and selection of appropriate behavior.

The study found that higher levels of CRP led to worse performance in executive function. Higher levels of the protein also affected the frontal lobe of the brain, where some motor functions take place.

Motor skills, however, were not measured in the study. Other areas of cognition, such as memory and language skills, showed no association with CRP.

Overall, the average time to complete a test of executive function was 85 seconds. Those with the highest levels of CRP took an average of seven seconds longer to complete the test than those with the lowest levels of the protein.

The brain changes measured with DTI were equivalent to 12 years of aging for those with the highest levels of CRP compared to those with the lowest levels.

“The use of aspirin and statin drugs as well as physical activity and controlling weight can help lower CRP levels in the body, but our analyses did not consider whether therapy would be effective or not,” said study author Heike Wersching, MD, with the University of M√ľnster in Germany.

The study is published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Inflammation Response Lowers Cognitive Ability

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Inflammation Response Lowers Cognitive Ability. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/04/01/inflammation-response-lowers-cognitive-ability/12515.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.