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Health & Families

Big noggins equal better memory

Size matters when it comes to the size of your head and coping with Alzheimer's disease according to a new study published July 13 in the American medical journal Neurology.

Robert Perneczky, MD, PhD, a researcher in the psychiatry department at the Technical University of Munich in Germany, led a team of researchers that found those with large heads battling Alzheimer's disease (AD) have a better memory and cognitive abilities than those with AD and smaller heads. The amount of brain cell death caused by AD was not a factor.

"These results add weight to the theory of brain reserve, or the individual capacity to withstand changes in the brain," Perneczky explained in an American Academy of Neurology announcement.

"Our findings also underline the importance of optimal brain development early in life, since the brain reaches 93 percent of its final size at age six."

Brain growth has a good deal to do with genetics, however "nutrition, infections and inflammations of the central nervous system, and brain injuries" can impact brain growth.

"Improving prenatal and early life conditions could significantly increase brain reserve, which could have an impact on the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or the severity of symptoms of the disease."

The study is to be published on July 13 at http://www.neurology.org/papbyrecent.dtl