Career Choice May Affect Onset of Dementia
According to scientists at the Baycrest Rotman Research Institute and the University of California, the location of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), also referred to as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in the brain is influenced by career choice.
Scientists examined 588 patients diagnosed with the disease, which causes personality and behavior changes and a decline in memory and language skills. The disease is found on one side of the brain and becomes more widespread over time. Researchers assessed the patients’ occupations based on verbal, physical and visuospatial skills. They found that patients whose professions required high verbal skills, such as a CEO or school principal, developed FTD on the right side of the brain. Those whose professions required low verbal skills, such as flight engineers, experienced the disease on the left.
According to Dr. Nathan Spreng from the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, the disease affected the patient’s side of the brain that was used the least in their career. One explanation is that the brain hemisphere used most in one’s career becomes stronger, and thus the disease attacks the weaker. For example, hours of utilizing the left side of the brain, which is responsible for language and verbal skills, strengthens connections and makes the hemisphere less susceptible to damage. Another explanation is that there could be functional impairment related to the disease that causes patients to be biased towards a certain career long before they experience FTD effects. Further research will be needed in order to determine an exact cause.