Scientists from the Technical University of Munich in Germany found that individuals suffering with Alzheimer’s faired better in memory and thinking skill tests the larger the sizer of their heads. A difference was even noted when the brain cell deaths was the same in the with small and large head sizes.
Robert Perneczky led the study and he believes the results add further weight to the theory of brain reserve, or the individual capacity to withstand the changes of the brain.
The study involved 270 Alzheimer’s sufferers who took a number of memory and thinking skill tests. They were also given magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans which assessed their levels of brain cell death.
The circumference of each patients head was measured to determine its size and the results of the study showed that having a larger head was associated with a higher level of performance in the tests despite brain cells dying off as a result of the Alzheimer’s.
The researchers worked out that for every one per cent of brain cell death, an additional centimetre of head size was linked to an improvement in memory of six per cent.
The findings highlight the importance of brain development in early life, as by the age of six our brain has already reached 93 per cent of its final size.