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1.  Cognitive reserve, cortical plasticity and resistance to Alzheimer's disease 
There are aspects of the ageing brain and cognition that remain poorly understood despite intensive efforts to understand how they are related. Cognitive reserve is the concept that has been developed to explain how it is that some elderly people with extensive neuropathology associated with dementia show little in the way of cognitive decline. Cognitive reserve is intimately related to cortical plasticity but this also, as it relates to ageing, remains poorly understood at the present time. Despite the shortcomings in understanding, we do have some knowledge on which to base efforts to minimise the likelihood of an elderly person developing dementia. For some risks the evidence is far from secure, but resistance to Alzheimer's disease (AD) appears from epidemiological studies to be contributed to by avoiding hypertension in middle life, obesity, depression, smoking and diabetes and head injury and by undertaking extended years of education, physical exercise, and social and intellectual pursuits in middle and late life. Nutritional factors may also promote healthy brain ageing. Resistance to AD is also contributed to by genetic factors, particularly apolipoprotein E2, but some combinations of other genetic polymorphisms as well. Although multiple factors and possible interventions may influence cognitive reserve and susceptibility to dementia, much more work is required on the mechanisms of action in order to determine which, if any, may improve the clinical and epidemiological picture. Understanding of how such factors operate may lead to new initiatives to keep the elderly population in the 21st century able to lead active and fulfilling lives.
doi:10.1186/alzrt105
PMCID: PMC3334540  PMID: 22380508
2.  Pro: Can neuropathology really confirm the exact diagnosis? 
Recent advances in the clinical diagnostic instruments for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease (AD) and in neuroimaging may cast doubt in the minds of some practitioners about the continued need for neuropathology to provide the ultimate diagnosis. Certainly the majority of cases of AD can be clinically correctly diagnosed by experienced clinicians but many cases are given this label by less experienced practitioners. Even after the most thorough work-up, a few cases of confidently diagnosed AD turn out to be something else when microscopy of the brain is undertaken. Even for neuropathologists, however, it can be difficult to correctly assign cognitive decline to the various pathological processes that can be found together in an older brain. We need further clinicopathogical study to enlighten us about, for example, the contribution of commonly found cerebrovascular disease to dementia. Human studies are also needed to explore the changes in pathology that new treatments for AD may produce.
doi:10.1186/alzrt33
PMCID: PMC2876787  PMID: 20497619

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