by Rebecca Smith for The Daily Telegraph:
They are the grandparents whose quick wit, Scrabble skills and verbal dexterity routinely belie their age and leave relations struggling to keep up.
Now scientists have discovered that they are among a group of octogenarian “super-agers” who have brains like people 30 years younger.
MRI scans have found that some people in their eighties have more developed sections of the brain associated with memory, attention and thinking skills.
The researchers believe that for some people the rare ability to withstand the effects of ageing is in the genes, while for others it may be down to a combination of genes and a healthy way of life. It is hoped that the discovery, by Northwestern University in Chicago, could lead to new approaches to the treatment of dementia.
Posted by WBHI on Aug 3, 2012 in Think About It, Think Ahead
by Senior Care Corner:
Alzheimer’s disease is a scary diagnosis, both for the patient and their loved ones. There is almost no one in America who is currently unaffected by this disease either with a loved one, friend or possibly themselves.
What if you were told you have the “gene” for Alzheimer’s? Would you want to be tested or even know if you might be in the early stages? A recent article that we found extremely fascinating explored these specific questions and gave a glimpse into the world of a family in the grips of Alzheimer’s disease.
A Family Afflicted by Alzheimer’s
At a family reunion there were gathered 14 siblings ranging in age from 29 to 52 years. Included in the family photo were cousins, aunts and uncles in addition to the siblings. One observer remembers that many of the siblings did not “seem right.” They appeared confused, stared into space and found difficulty keeping up with the conversations that day.
by Michelle Fay Cortez for Businessweek:
Over the past 18 months, 81-year-old Bill Bunnell has visited the doctor a half-dozen times to take memory tests, provide blood samples, and undergo a spinal tap and imaging scans. It’s all part of the most extensive study ever conducted on Alzheimer’s.
Now researchers are about to take an even closer look at Bunnell, a retired engineer from Madison, Connecticut.
Working with $2 million in new grants to be announced this week, the researchers for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative will, for the first time, start mapping the DNA of 800 participants in a study attempting to find the root causes of memory loss. The goal is to see if physical changes from Alzheimer’s can be matched to genetic disparities, which can then be compared with findings from healthy people like Bunnell.
Posted by WBHI on Jun 14, 2012 in Think About It
by BBC News:
t has been known for some time that people with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but not why this is so.
Now US researchers writing in Genetics say a study of worms has indicated a known Alzheimer’s gene also plays a role in the way insulin is processed.
Dementia experts said more work in humans was now needed.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which affects 820,000 people in the UK. There are medications which can slow the progress of the disease, but none that can halt its progress.
A key indication of Alzheimer’s, which can only be seen after death, is the presence of sticky plaques of amyloid protein in decimated portions of patients’ brains. Scientists have already found mutations in a gene involved in the processing of amyloid protein in Alzheimer’s which run in families.
Posted by WBHI on May 18, 2012 in Great Minds Think Alike
by Science Daily:
Exercise clears the mind. It gets the blood pumping and more oxygen is delivered to the brain. This is familiar territory, but Dartmouth’s David Bucci thinks there is much more going on.
“In the last several years there have been data suggesting that neurobiological changes are happening — [there are] very brain-specific mechanisms at work here,” says Bucci, an associate professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.
From his studies, Bucci and his collaborators have revealed important new findings:
- The effects of exercise are different on memory as well as on the brain, depending on whether the exerciser is an adolescent or an adult.
- A gene has been identified which seems to mediate the degree to which exercise has a beneficial effect. This has implications for the potential use of exercise as an intervention for mental illness.
Bucci began his pursuit of the link between exercise and memory with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), one of the most common childhood psychological disorders. Bucci is concerned that the treatment of choice seems to be medication.
Posted by WBHI on May 14, 2012 in Think Twice
by Dr. Sharon A. Takiguchi for Yahoo:
The Journal of Affective Disorders reports women receive a diagnosis of depression twice as often as men do. The exact reason for the gender difference remains unknown. Depression represents a state of sadness or feeling blue. Individuals with depression exhibit a range of symptoms such as irritability, feelings of hopelessness, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems and mood swings. Furthermore, depression exists as one of the five leading causes of disability.
Causes of Depression in Women
The National institute of Mental Health describes multiple variables overlapping to trigger depression in women. Scientists indicate the variables of genetic, chemical, hormonal, environmental, biological, mental and social factors play a part in depression. Research remains ongoing to characterize these various aspects.
Some women report a family history of depression, but heritage is not a hard and fast rule. Depression occurs in women with no family history and women coming from a family with evidence of depression may fail to develop the condition. In a Review of Genetics and Depression, Mitjans and Arias indicate genetically susceptible persons acquire depression when exposed to risk factors.
Posted by WBHI on May 11, 2012 in Think About It
by Dementia Today
GENETIC RISK FACTORS
Scientists who study the genetics of Alzheimer’s distinguish between “familial Alzheimer’s disease,” which runs in families, and “sporadic Alzheimer’s disease”, where no obvious inheritance pattern is seen. True familial Alzheimer’s disease accounts for less than 5% of Alzheimer’s cases. Sporadic Alzheimer’s is much more common.
Familial Alzheimer’s Disease
All Familial Alzheimer’s disease known so far has an early onset, and as many as 50 percent of the cases are now known to be caused by defects in three genes located on three different chromosomes, the structures inside cells that house the genetic code. Some families have mutations in a gene called amyloid precurser protein (APP), which causes an abnormal form of the amyloid protein to be produced. Other families have mutations in a gene called presenilin 1, which causes an abnormal presenilin 1 protein to be produced. Still others have mutations in a very similar gene called presenilin 2, which causes an abnormal presenilin 2 protein to be produced.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 22, 2012 in Think About It
by Paula Spencer Scott for caring.com
Short-term memory loss is one of the most noticeable signs of Alzheimer’s disease. But the disease process usually begins before symptoms are noticed. To assess someone’s risk of becoming one of the more than 5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s, it’s helpful to understand the risk factors that increase the odds of developing the condition.
What is Alzheimer’s, and who’s at risk?
Although certain basic lifestyle changes can help delay the onset of the disease in some people, the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease isn’t yet understood. Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder: Normal brain cell function is gradually destroyed, leading to irreversible declines in memory, cognition, and behavior. But what causes things to go awry remains unknown. It may be that Alzheimer’s has several causes or that the interplay between genetic makeup and certain risk factors determines who’s affected.
Posted by WBHI on Apr 15, 2012 in Sooner Than You Think
by University of California
Two research studies, co-led by UC Davis neurologist Charles DeCarli and conducted by an international team that included more than 80 scientists at 71 institutions in eight countries, has advanced understanding of the genetic components of Alzheimer’s disease and of brain development. Both studies appear in the April 15 edition of the journal Nature Genetics.
The first study, based on a genetic analysis of more than 9,000 people, has found that certain versions of four genes may speed shrinkage of a brain region involved in making new memories. The brain area, known as the hippocampus, normally shrinks with age, but if the process speeds up, it could increase vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease, the research suggests.
The second paper identifies two genes associated with intracranial volume — the space within the skull occupied by the brain when the brain is fully developed in a person’s lifespan, usually around age 20.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 30, 2012 in Sooner Than You Think
by Zee News
Researchers have produced the first atlas of the surface of the human brain based upon genetic information.
The atlas reveals that the cerebral cortex – the sheet of neural tissue enveloping the brain – is roughly divided into genetic divisions that differ from other brain maps based on physiology or function. The genetic atlas provides scientists with a new tool for studying and explaining how the brain works, particularly the involvement of genes.
“Genetics are important to understanding all kinds of biological phenomena,” said William S. Kremen, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and co-senior author with Anders M. Dale, PhD, professor of radiology, neurosciences, and psychiatry, also at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
“If we can understand the genetic underpinnings of the brain, we can get a better idea of how it develops and works, information we can then use to ultimately improve treatments for diseases and disorders,” said Chi-Hua Chen, PhD, first author and a postdoctoral fellow in the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry.