Posted by WBHI on Apr 7, 2013 in Think Ahead
by Business Standard:
Scientists have developed a new brain-imaging tool that along with stroke risk assessment can identify signs of cognitive decline early on in individuals who don’t yet show symptoms of dementia.
The connection between stroke risk and cognitive decline has been well established. Individuals with higher stroke risk, as measured by factors like high blood pressure, have traditionally performed worse on tests of memory, attention and abstract reasoning.
The new study demonstrated that not only stroke risk, but also the burden of plaques and tangles, as measured by a University of California, Los Angeles brain scan, may influence cognitive decline. The imaging tool used in the study was developed at UCLA and reveals early evidence of amyloid beta “plaques” and neurofibrillary tau “tangles” in the brain – the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Posted by WBHI on Feb 11, 2013 in Think About It
by Jill Schlesinger for CBS News:
Years ago, a colleague of mine showed me a study which found that cognitive ability can start slipping as early as age 50. “I guess that means we only have a limited time left in the money management business,” he teased. That study has always haunted me — the idea that my cognitive abilities would begin to fade at about the same time as my tennis game was depressing.
Thankfully, a new study examined adults 50 to 79 years of age to determine the connection between cognitive health, aging and decision-making capacity, found that age alone is not a predictive factor of lower decision making capacity. The “Healthy Brain, Healthy Decisions” study was a collaboration of the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas and the University of California, San Francisco.
The good news is that those who are 50 to 79 are as logically consistent as younger decision-makers and retain the ability to sift through and focus on important information, while ignoring less relevant information. This is referred to as “strategic learning capacity” and it may actually increase with age.
Posted by WBHI on Jan 4, 2013 in Think About It
by Richard C. Senelick, MD, for The Atlantic:
Depending which part of the brain is affected, different skills will be preserved or impaired in various types of cognitive decline and dementia. This gradual reformation is what may allow the emergence of new artistic abilities.
I always wished l had true musical or artistic talent. There being none, I became a physician. Five years ago, I starting taking guitar lessons and hoped that I would be amazed by some “hidden” talent that would reveal itself to me and the rest of the world. Although I continue to practice every day and enjoy my musical adventure, the talent part remains elusive, if not totally hidden. But this is not the case for everyone. There are people who start to paint or play a musical instrument later in life and become very accomplished — often only when their brain begins to deteriorate.
Posted by WBHI on Jan 4, 2013 in Think Twice
by Nancy Walsh for MedPage Today:
The year after a woman’s final menstrual period — a phase classified as early postmenopause — is a time in which subtle changes in cognition occur, researchers found.
Compared with women in an earlier stage of menopause known as the late menopausal transition phase, those in early postmenopause scored worse on tests of verbal learning (B = −0.93, P<0.01) and verbal memory (B = −0.80, P=0.01), according to Miriam T. Weber, PhD, of the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues.
In addition, women in early postmenopause fared worse on measures of fine motor skills (B = −0.70, P=0.03) and attention/working memory (B = −0.55, P=0.04), the researchers reported online in Menopause.
Posted by WBHI on Aug 2, 2012 in Think About It
by Christopher Fisher, PhD for BMED Report:
The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is advancing age. By age 85, the likelihood of developing the dreaded neurological disorder is roughly 50 percent. But researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say AD hits hardest among the “younger elderly” – people in their 60s and 70s – who show faster rates of brain tissue loss and cognitive decline than AD patients 80 years and older.
The findings, reported online in the August 2, 2012 issue of the journal PLOS One, have profound implications for both diagnosing AD – which currently afflicts an estimated 5.6 million Americans, a number projected to triple by 2050 – and efforts to find new treatments. There is no cure for AD and existing therapies do not slow or stop disease progression.
“One of the key features for the clinical determination of AD is its relentless progressive course,” said Dominic Holland, PhD, a researcher at the Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego and the study’s first author. “Patients typically show marked deterioration year after year. If older patients are not showing the same deterioration from one year to the next, doctors may be hesitant to diagnose AD, and thus these patients may not receive appropriate care, which can be very important for their quality of life.”
by Dr. Douglas Fields for Huffington Post:
Dementia and osteoporosis are two of the most common health conditions affecting older women; interestingly, a new study finds a strong link between the two. Loss of bone density, which can be measured easily by X-ray, strongly correlates with cognitive decline in postmenopausal women. The findings also suggest that similar studies should be conducted in men.
Menopause is not normally associated with changes in memory or cognitive performance, but estrogen deficiency can cause cognitive impairment, and low estrogen level is also a risk factor for weak bones and osteoporosis. Women who have had both ovaries removed before the age of 45 are at significantly-increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Studies suggest that women suffer Alzheimer’s disease at up to three times the rate of men. Forgetfulness is the mildest form of cognitive decline in postmenopausal women, but 10-15 percent of women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Posted by WBHI on May 23, 2012 in Think About It
by David Krotz for Berkeley Lab:
For the past five years, volunteers from the City of Berkeley and surrounding areas have come to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to participate in an ongoing study that’s changing what scientists know about Alzheimer’s disease.
The volunteers, most over the age of 70, undergo what can best be described as a brain checkup. They’re asked to solve puzzles and memorize lists of words. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans image the structure of their brains in exquisite detail. Functional MRI scans allow scientists to watch portions of their brains light up as they form memories. And Positron emission tomography (PET) scans measure any accumulation of beta-amyloid, a destructive protein that’s a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
The goal of the Berkeley Aging Cohort Study is to reveal how our brains change as we age. The scientists also compare their findings with brain scans of Alzheimer’s patients. They’ve noticed something odd—and perhaps a little hopeful. Some volunteers have the same level of beta-amyloid deposition as an Azheimer’s patient. Yet they show no signs of the disease.
Why is this? How can two people, the same age and with the same signs of the disease, take such different paths?
Posted by WBHI on May 22, 2012 in Think About It
by Medical XPress:
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other types of dementia are most common in the very elderly, and are associated with huge health costs. With a rapidly ageing population throughout the world, factors that affect the risk of cognitive decline and dementia are of great importance.
A review paper by Kim JW et al published in Psychiatry Investigation on the association between alcohol consumption and cognition in the elderly provides an excellent summary of the potential ways in which alcohol may affect cognitive function and the risk of dementia, both adversely and favourably as alcohol may have both a neuro toxic and neuro protective effect, depending on the dose and drinking pattern.
Longitudinal and brain imaging studies in the elderly show that excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction and dementia, but regular low to moderate alcohol intake may protect against cognitive decline and dementia and provide cardiovascular benefits.
Posted by WBHI on May 18, 2012 in Think It Over, Think Twice
by Steven Reinberg for U.S. News:
Women who eat a lot of “bad” saturated fat may hurt their overall brain function and memory over time, Harvard University researchers report.
In contrast, eating more “good” monounsaturated fat improved brain function and memory, suggesting that fats may have the same effect on the brain as they do on the heart, the researchers added.
“Making changes and substitutions in one’s diet to eat fewer saturated fats and consume more monounsaturated fats might be a way to help prevent cognitive decline in older people,” said lead researcher Dr. Olivia Okereke, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “This is important because cognitive decline affects millions of older people. So, this is a promising area of research.”
Just like exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking, this may be another modifiable factor in the fight against mental decline, Okereke added.
“Such modifiable factors are important because these are things that people canactually change and over which they can exert some individual control,” she said.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 21, 2012 in Think About It
by Health News Digest
A new study published in the March 21 issue of Neurology suggests that older adults who are hospitalized may have an increased risk of subsequent cognitive decline. The study, conducted by researchers at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, Rush University Medical Center, found that hospitalization of older adults was associated with increased memory and thinking problems.
“Our study is timely as the United States population continues to rapidly age and researchers try to identify factors that could decrease memory and thinking problems in older adults,” said Robert S. Wilson, PhD, study author and neuropsychologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Understanding a possible link to something as common as hospital stays is extremely important.”
It is common for memory and thinking skills to decline slightly during the aging process. In the study, researchers found that overall cognitive function declined more than twice as fast after a first hospital stay, compared either to the previous rate before the hospital stay or to people who were not admitted to the hospital. On specific cognitive tests, the rate of decline after the first hospital stay was more than three times faster on a long-term memory test and 1.5 times faster on a complex attention test. The results stayed the same even after considering factors such as severe illness, longer hospital stay and older age.