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Front. Aging Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2018.00381

Primary school education may be sufficient to moderate a memory-hippocampal relationship

 Elisa D. Resende1, 2, Howard J. Rosen2, Kevin Chiang2,  Adam M. Staffaroni2, Isabel Allen2,  Lea T. Grinberg2, Karoline C. Carmona1,  Henrique C. Guimarães1, Viviane A. Carvalho1, Maira T. Barbosa1,  Leonardo Cruz de Souza1 and  PAULO CARAMELLI1*
  • 1Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • 2Memory and Aging Center, University of California at San Francisco, United States

According to the cognitive reserve theory, intellectual stimuli acquired during life can prevent against developing cognitive impairment. The underlying cognitive-reserve mechanisms were underexplored in low-educated individuals. Because episodic memory impairment due to hippocampal dysfunction is a key feature of Alzheimer’s dementia, we sought to look at a possible cognitive reserve mechanism by determining whether few years of education moderated the relationship between the hippocampal volumes and the episodic-memory scores. The sample was composed by 183 older adults, 40.1% male, with the median age of 78[76,82]years and the median years of education of 4[2,10] who had undergone an episodic-memory test and a 3-Tesla MRI scan to access the hippocampal volumes. Overall, 112 were cognitively healthy, 26 had cognitive impairment-no dementia and 45 had dementia. We used multiple linear regression to assess whether the interaction between years of education and each hippocampal volume significantly predicted the episodic-memory scores’ variance, controlling for cognitive diagnosis and nuisance variables. The interaction term with the left hippocampus (ß=0.2, p=0.043, CI=1.0,1.4), but not with the right (ß=0.1, p=0.218, CI=0.9,1.2) significantly predicted the variation on memory scores. The mechanism by which the left hippocampus seems to play a more important role on memory processing in more educated individuals needs to be further investigated and might be associated with a better use of mnemonic strategies or higher hippocampal connectivity. Because the sample’s median years of education was four, which corresponds to primary school, we may infer that this level might be sufficient to contribute for building cognitive reserve.

Keywords: Education, Cognitive Reserve, Hippocampus, Aging, episodic memory, NeuroImage

Received: 14 Aug 2018; Accepted: 31 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Ashok Kumar, University of Florida, United States

Reviewed by:

Laura Serra, Fondazione Santa Lucia (IRCCS), Italy
Sharon S. Simon, Columbia University Medical Center, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Resende, Rosen, Chiang, Staffaroni, Allen, Grinberg, Carmona, Guimarães, Carvalho, Barbosa, Cruz de Souza and CARAMELLI. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. PAULO CARAMELLI, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, 31270-901, Minas Gerais, Brazil, caramelli@ufmg.br