Does having a big head protect you against Alzheimer’s?

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New research shows that people with Alzheimer’s disease who have large heads have better memory and thinking skills than those with the disease who have smaller heads, even when they have the same amount of brain cell death due to the disease. The research is published in the July 13, 2010, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“These results add weight to the theory of brain reserve, or the individual capacity to withstand changes in the brain,” said study author Robert Perneczky, MD, of the Technical University of Munich in Germany. “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.”

…The study showed that larger head size was associated with a greater performance on memory and thinking tests, even when there was an equivalent degree of brain cell death. Specifically, for every one percent of brain cell death, an additional centimeter of head size was associated with a six percent greater performance on the memory tests.

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