Mechanisms mediating brain and cognitive reserve: Experience-dependent neuroprotection and functional compensation in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases

Jess Nithianantharajah*, Anthony J. Hannan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

'Brain and cognitive reserve' (BCR) refers here to the accumulated neuroprotective reserve and capacity for functional compensation induced by the chronic enhancement of mental and physical activity. BCR is thought to protect against, and compensate for, a range of different neurodegenerative diseases, as well as other neurological and psychiatric disorders. In this review we will discuss BCR, and its potential mechanisms, in neurodegenerative disorders, with a focus on Huntington's disease (HD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Epidemiological studies of AD, and other forms of dementia, provided early evidence for BCR. The first evidence for the beneficial effects of enhanced mental and physical activity, and associated mechanistic insights, in an animal model of neurodegenerative disease was provided by experiments using HD transgenic mice. More recently, experiments on animal models of HD, AD and various other brain disorders have suggested potential molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning BCR. We propose that sophisticated insight into the processes underlying BCR, and identification of key molecules mediating these beneficial effects, will pave the way for therapeutic advances targeting these currently incurable neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-339
Number of pages9
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Brain reserve
  • Cognitive reserve
  • Environmental enrichment
  • Experience-dependent plasticity
  • Huntington's disease

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