Posted by WBHI on Jan 10, 2013 in Think It Over
by Rita Rubin for NBC News:
Everyone knows stress can cause headaches and sleepless nights. But a new study suggests it can actually shrink your brain.
We’re not talking run-of-the-mill stressors here, like a looming deadline or a missed bus. “These are bad things happening, like a relationship breakup, loss of a loved one, being held at gunpoint,” says Yale neurobiologist Rajita Sinha, senior author of the new report.
Simply feeling stressed-out was not linked to gray matter shrinkage. But feeling stressed-out combined with a history of stressful life events was. In particular, stress was linked to markedly less gray matter than expected in a part of the prefrontal cortex that regulates emotion and self-control, not to mention blood pressure and blood sugar.
That shrinkage might serve as a red flag about a greater risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure as well as psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers. And maybe it’s already affecting brain function in the healthy individuals she studied, Sinha says.
Posted by WBHI on Sep 4, 2012 in Think Ahead
by Health Canal:
People whose blood sugar is on the high end of the normal range may be at greater risk of brain shrinkage that occurs with aging and diseases such as dementia, according to new research published in the September 4, 2012, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Numerous studies have shown a link between type 2 diabetes and brain shrinkage and dementia, but we haven’t known much about whether people with blood sugar on the high end of normal experience these same effects,” said study author Nicolas Cherbuin, PhD, with Australian National University in Canberra.
Posted by WBHI on Aug 12, 2012 in Think About It
by Stephanie Pappas for Live Science:
Certain brain regions in people with major depression are smaller and less dense than those of their healthy counterparts. Now, researchers have traced the genetic reasons for this shrinkage.
A series of genes linked to the function of synapses, or the gaps between brain cells crucial for cell-to-cell communication, can be controlled by a single genetic “switch” that appears to be overproduced in the brains of people with depression, a new study finds.
“We show that circuits normally involved in emotion, as well as cognition, are disrupted when this single transcription factor is activated,” study researcher Ronald Duman, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University, said in a statement.
Transcription factors are proteins that help control which genetic instructions from DNA will be copied, or transcribed, as part of the process of building the body’s proteins.
Posted by WBHI on May 7, 2012 in Think It Over
by Science Daily
Elderly people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes suffer from an accelerated decline in brain size and mental capacity in as little as two years according to new research presented at the joint International Congress of Endocrinology/European Congress of Endocrinology in Florence, Italy.
An Australian research team led by Associate Professor Katherine Samaras (Garvan Institute of Medical Research) found that the aging brain is vulnerable to worsening blood sugar levels even before type 2 diabetes is diagnosable.
While some brain volume loss is a normal part of aging, the researchers found that elderly people with blood sugar levels in flux, as well as type 2 diabetes, lost almost two and a half times more brain volume than their peers over two years. The reduction in size of the frontal lobe — associated with higher mental functions like decision-making, emotional control, and long term memory — has a significant impact on cognitive function and quality of life.
Diabetes is a very common disorder caused by high levels of sugar in the bloodstream. It affects 6.4% (285 million) of the worldwide population and is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke and damage to the eyes, feet and kidneys. In type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% of all cases, insulin — a hormone that allows cells to take sugar from the bloodstream and store it as energy — does not work properly. 344 million people also have pre-diabetes, a condition with mildly elevated blood sugar levels that gives them a 50% risk of developing the disease over ten years.
by Kelly for Brain Health
Scientists have found that exercise triggers neurogenesis, slowing and even reversing the brain’s physical decay. Neurogenesis is the creation of new brain cells. This is particularly important because as we age, the brain, like all muscles and organs decline with underuse and age. Begining in our late 20′s most of us will lose 1% annually of the volume of the hippocampus, the brain’s center for learning and memory. Let’s not do the math. It’s too depressing. Instead let’s focus on the good news about the brain.
According to a recent New York Times article, “Using sophisticated technologies to examine the workings of individual neurons — and the makeup of brain matter itself — scientists discovered that exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhance cognitive flexibility. Exercise, the latest neuroscience suggests, does more to bolster thinking than thinking does.”
Exercise, it appears, reverses physical decay of the brain, much as it does with muscles. Until recently it was generally accepted that humans were born with a certain number of brain cells and would never generate more. We now know better.
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 Come To Think Of It
by Dementia Today
People with AD gradually suffer memory loss and a decline in thinking abilities, as well as major personality changes. These losses in cognitive function are accompanied by changes in the brain, including the build-up of amyloid plaques and tau-containing neurofibrillary tangles, which result in the death of brain cells and the breakdown of the connections between them.
Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are the primary hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Plaques are dense deposits of protein and cellular material outside and around the brain’s nerve cells. Tangles are twisted fibers that build up inside the nerve cells.
Scientists have known about plaques and tangles since 1906, when a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, first identified them in the brain of woman who had died after suffering paranoid delusions and psychosis. Intensive research efforts of the last two decades have revealed much about their composition, how they form, and their possible roles in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 22, 2012 in Think It Over
by Lorie Johnson for CBN News
For years, doctors have been advising Americans not to consume trans fats. But do you really stay away from them?
What if trans fats cause the onset of Alzheimer’s disease? That question led to an investigation at Portland’s Oregon Health and Science University, led by Dr. Gene Bowman.
“We’re interested in things that might have a role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “But we’re also looking for things that actually might be causing the disease.”
Big Brains vs. Small Brains
Dr. Bowman and his colleagues studied 104 seniors with an average age of 87 years. They submitted blood samples that revealed what nutrients were in their bodies. They also took thinking and memory tests. And they had MRI brain scans.
Scientists discovered those with higher levels of trans fats in their blood had smaller brains.
Posted by WBHI on Feb 8, 2012 in Come To Think Of It
by Johns Hopkins Health Alert for Maturity Matters:
Knowing how the normal brain ages — and how those changes affect your memory — can make the occasional senior moment less worrisome.
We tend to think of our brain as different from our other organs. But the brain undergoes predictable changes over time, just like the heart. As with heart disease, good genes and a healthy lifestyle can moderate these age-related changes, but it can’t entirely stop them.
Contrary to popular belief, brain neurons (nerve cells) do not undergo a massive die-off with age. Evidence now suggests that some neurons are indeed lost, but the brain continues to grow new ones, albeit at a slower pace. What does happen is that nerve cells in the brain begin to shrink. As a result, the connections between neurons (synapses) begin to deteriorate over time, and chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) become less available to carry information.
Posted by WBHI on Feb 1, 2012 in Come To Think Of It
At least three AD biomarkers are ready to be incorporated into AD clinical trials.
by Dennis J. Selkoe and John C. Morris for The Scientist
There’s been a lot of discussion about the need for biomarkers to diagnose and monitor the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). That discussion should continue, for sure, but the aging of our society means that researchers in the AD field need to move from talk to action.
Although some biomarkers have been under study for more than a decade, the continuing absence of truly effective therapies for preventing, moderating, or curing AD spurred the publication in December of a special supplemental issue of Neurobiology of Aging about the latest research and expert opinion on AD biomarkers in an effort to advance trials of experimental agents for the disease.