Jennifer Barnett and researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychiatry have discovered that intelligence can reduce the effects and severity of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
It was already known that intelligence can protect against dementia and the effects of head injury. Now, Barnett and her colleagues have reviewed the literature to discover that intelligence can also act as a buffer against the potentially debilitating effects of schizophrenia and other disorders. They found that for people with a higher IQ, the symptoms of schizophrenia were less severe and the ability to function in daily life better than for those people of lower IQ.
The team found that a phenomenon known as “cognitive reserve” made people more resilient to disabilities arising from these disorders. Fortunately, cognitive reserve can be strengthened through education, neurocognitive activation (doing sudoku, crosswords, and other puzzles), or other treatment programs. It may also be possible to improve cognitive reserve through the use of cognition-enhancing drugs, say the researchers.
“Cognitive reserve may greatly improve our understanding of individual differences in the causes and consequences of schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders,” Barnett explains. Team leader Barbara Sahakian adds that “We are very excited about these novel results. We have known for some time that it is important to ‘use it or lose it’ with regard to ageing and dementia, but it now seems that this concept applies more widely.”
The research will appear online in the journal Psychological Medicine
You can play suduko online at Sciencebase.