Education is often viewed as exercise for the brain — but a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins found that might be more true than anyone knew. Not only does learning make you feel smart, it might actually make your brain healthier, and, as a result, protect it from injury.
In a study published in the journal “Neurology,” epidemiologist Eric Schneider looked at medical records of close to 800 adults who had suffered from traumatic brain injuries, and the results of the injuries a year after the patients’ hospital stays. Of the people he studied, Schneider found that people with higher levels of education were less likely to suffer lasting disability from the trauma. Those who didn’t finish high school, however, were almost three times as likely to see lasting debilitating effects.
Previous studies have found that educational pursuits, like reading fiction, can help the brain make connections, which can even speed reaction time. Additionally, adult-specific education has been found to help retain cognitive function. However, the relationship between education and the health of the actual physical brain in response to traumatic injury hasn’t been widely studied.
Schneider theorizes that the results are due to something called a “cognitive reserve,” which prepares the brain to better deal with injury. To achieve greater cognitive research, he advises “that pursuing lifelong learning may be beneficial.”
We couldn’t agree more.