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By Alex Therrien Health reporter, BBC News A five-minute scan could be used to spot people at risk of dementia before symptoms appear, researchers claim. Scientists used ultrasound scanners to look at blood vessels in the necks of more than 3,000 people and monitored them over the next 15 years. They found those with the most intense pulses went on to experience greater cognitive decline over the next decade than the other study participants. Researchers hope it may offer a new way to predict cognitive decline. An international team of experts, led by University College London (UCL), measured the intensity of the pulse travelling towards the brain in 3,191 people in 2002. A more intense pulse can cause damage to the small vessels of the brain, structural changes in the brain's blood vessel network and minor bleeds known as mini-strokes. Over the next 15 years, researchers monitored participants' memory and problem-solving ability. Those with the highest intensity pulse (the top quarter of participants) at the beginning of the study were about 50% more likely to show accelerated cognitive decline over the next decade compared with the rest of the participants, the study found. Researchers said this was the equivalent of about an extra one to one-and-half years of decline. Cognitive decline is often one of the first signs of dementia, but not everyone who experiences it will go on to develop the condition. Researchers said the test could provide a new way to identify people who are at risk of developing dementia, leading to earlier treatments and lifestyle interventions. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, having a healthy diet, doing regular exercise and not smoking can all help to stave off dementia, evidence suggests. © 2018 BBC

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25670 - Posted: 11.12.2018

By Paula Span The spouses arriving for the Wednesday afternoon caregivers’ class at the Penn Memory Center in Philadelphia had something on their minds even before Alison Lynn, the social worker leading the session, could start the conversation. A few days before, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor had released a letter announcing that she’d been diagnosed with dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease. “As this condition has progressed, I am no longer able to participate in public life,” she wrote. “I want to be open about these changes, and while I am still able, share some personal thoughts.” It meant something to Ms. Lynn’s participants that the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court would acknowledge, at 88, that she had the same relentless disease that was claiming their husbands and wives (and that killed Justice O’Connor’s husband, too, in 2009). “There’s so much stigma,” Ms. Lynn said. “Caregivers feel so isolated and lonely. They were happy that she would bring light and public attention to this disease.” Justice O’Connor had joined a growing but still tiny group: public figures who choose to share a dementia diagnosis. The breakthrough came in 1994, when Ronald and Nancy Reagan released a handwritten letter disclosing his Alzheimer’s disease. “In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition,” the former president wrote. “Perhaps it will encourage a clearer understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it.” Musician Glen Campbell and his family reached a similar decision in 2011, announcing his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and several farewell concerts, in a magazine interview. The concerts became a 15-month tour and an intimate, unflinching documentary. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25662 - Posted: 11.10.2018

Jon Hamilton A substance that gives pot its kick appears to reduce the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease – at least in mice. In mice that had been genetically tweaked to develop symptoms like those of Alzheimer's, animals that received a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol for six weeks performed as well as healthy mice on a memory test, scientists reported Tuesday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego. Meanwhile, mice given a placebo instead of THC lost the ability to remember where to find the shallow spot in a pool of water. The treated mice also lost fewer brain cells and their brains contained 20 percent less of the sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer's, said researcher Yvonne Bouter of the University Medical Center Goettingen in Goettingen, Germany. Bouter presented the results, which haven't been published in a peer-reviewed journal, at a press conference. The findings suggest that "cannabis could be beneficial for Alzheimer's disease," Bouter said. But even if that's true, she said, it doesn't mean the growing number of healthy older people who smoke pot should celebrate by lighting up. "We did this same experiment in healthy mice," she said, "and they had problems learning." "Should you give Grandpa THC? You should probably be cautious," said Michael Taffe of the Scripps Research Institute, who moderated the press conference. "You could have something that is detrimental, if this does not translate to humans, or the person did not have the disorder." © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 25657 - Posted: 11.09.2018

Richard Harris Powerful drugs that have been used for decades to treat delirium are ineffective for that purpose, according to a study published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Antipsychotic medications, such as haloperidol (brand name, Haldol), are widely used in intensive care units, emergency rooms, hospital wards and nursing homes. "In some surveys up to 70 percent of patients [in the ICU] get these antipsychotics," says Dr. E. Wesley "Wes" Ely, an intensive care specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. They're prescribed by "very good doctors at extremely good medical centers," he says. "Millions of people worldwide are getting these drugs to treat their delirium." But the drugs can have serious side effects. And Ely says there is no solid research showing that they are effective at treating delirium. Patients with delirium are often confused and incoherent and sometimes can suffer hallucinations. This condition can lead to long-term cognitive problems, including a form of dementia. Ely and colleagues at 16 U.S. medical centers decided to put antipsychotic drugs to a rigorous test. They divided nearly 600 patients who were suffering from delirium into three groups. One group got the powerful antipsychotic haloperidol. A second group got ziprasidone, which is a related medication from a class of drugs called "atypical antipsychotics." A third group got a placebo. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25602 - Posted: 10.23.2018

Allison Aubrey By age 40, about one in 10 adults will experience some hearing loss. It happens so slowly and gradually, says audiologist Dina Rollins, "you don't realize what you're missing." And even as it worsens, many people are in denial. By the time someone is convinced they have a hearing problem, age-related memory loss may have already set in. But, here's the good news: Restoring hearing with hearing aids can help slow down cognitive decline. Consider these findings: Researchers tracked about 2,000 older adults in the U.S. both before and after they started using hearing aids. The adults were participants in a big, national study, the Health and Retirement Study. "We found the rate of cognitive decline was slowed by 75 percent following the adoption of hearing aids," says Asri Maharani, a researcher at the University of Manchester in the division of neuroscience and experimental psychology and an author of the paper. "It is a surprising result," Maharani says. The study was published this spring in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. To assess cognition over time, researchers performed a battery of tests face-to-face with participants. This was done every two years from 1996 to 2014. One test to assess memory required participants to recall a list of 10 words, both immediately after the words were read aloud, and then again after the participants had been distracted by other tasks. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 25599 - Posted: 10.22.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar Having pre-eclampsia — dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy — is linked to an increased risk for dementia later in life, according to a new study. Up to 5 percent of pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia, usually after the 20th week. In addition to hypertension, the condition can include signs of diminished kidney or liver function. Researchers followed the 1,178,005 Danish women who had given birth between 1978 and 2015. More than 58,000 of them had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. The study is in BMJ. Having pre-eclampsia doubled the risk for vascular dementia, and quadrupled the risk for women over 65. There was a modest association of pre-eclampsia with Alzheimer’s disease, and none with any other type of dementia. “My advice to a woman who has had pre-eclampsia is the same for dementia as it would be for cardiovascular risk,” said the senior author, Heather A. Boyd, a researcher at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen. “Get the hypertension down, get the weight within normal range, work on lowering the risk for Type 2 diabetes. We still need to confirm this finding in other populations, and then we need to figure out what to do about it. We don’t know at this point what the intervention should be.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25587 - Posted: 10.18.2018

By Jonathan D. Grinstein For the 50 million individuals worldwide ailing from Alzheimer’s disease, the announcements by pharmaceutical giants earlier this year that they will end research on therapeutics were devastating. The news is even more devastating considering projections that 100 million more people will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease across the globe by 2050, all potentially without a medical means to better their quality of life. As it happens, though, the pursuit of a therapeutic has been given a lifeline. New research shows that physical exercise can “clean up” the hostile environments in the brains of Alzheimer’s mice, allowing new nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain structure involved in memory and learning, to enable cognitive improvements, such as learning and memory. These findings imply that pharmacological agents that enrich the hippocampal environment to boost cell growth and survival might be effective to recuperate brain health and function in human Alzheimer’s disease patients. The brain of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease is a harsh place filled with buildups of harmful nerve cell junk—amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles—and dramatic loss of nerve cells and connections that occur with severe cognitive decline, such as memory loss. Targeting and disrupting this harmful junk, specifically amyloid plaques, to restore brain function has been the basis of many failed clinical trials. This futility has led to a re-evaluation of the amyloid hypothesis—the central dogma for Alzheimer’s disease pathology based on the toxic accumulation of amyloid plaques. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25583 - Posted: 10.17.2018

Richard Harris If you are one of the 5.7 million Americans who ends up in the intensive care unit each year, you are at high risk of developing long-term mental effects like dementia and confusion. These mental problems can be as pronounced as those experienced by people with Alzheimer's disease or a traumatic brain injury and many patients never fully recover. But research shows you are less likely to suffer those effects if the doctors and nurses follow a procedure that's gaining ground in ICUs nationwide. The steps are part of a bundle of actions aimed at reducing delirium in ICU patients. Doctors define delirium as a usually temporary state of mental confusion characterized by a lack of focus, difficulty in understanding what's going on around you and, sometimes, hallucinations. Following this checklist of actions can reduce the risk of mental impairment following an ICU stay by 25 to 30 percent, says Dr. E. Wesley "Wes" Ely at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (This post-ICU condition is separate from memory problems that can arise after heart surgery and general anesthesia in the elderly). It isn't simply detailed medical care — it's a philosophy. "I think the most modifiable piece of this is what we do to the patient," Ely says. "And what we do to the patient [that] is dangerous is immobilize them chemically [with drugs] and physically, and then not allow the family there, and allow them to subsist in delirium." © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25559 - Posted: 10.11.2018

By Melissa Bailey, Kaiser Health News Some patients refuse to answer. Many doctors don’t ask. Family members worry about offending a suffering loved one. As the number of Americans with dementia rises, health professionals are grappling with when and how to pose the question: “Do you have guns at home?” While gun violence data is scarce, a Kaiser Health News investigation with PBS NewsHour published in June uncovered over 100 cases across the United States since 2012 in which people with dementia used guns to kill themselves or others. The shooters often acted during bouts of confusion, paranoia, delusion or aggression — common symptoms of dementia. Tragically they shot spouses, children and caregivers. Yet health care providers across the country say they have not received enough guidance on whether, when and how to counsel families on gun safety. Dr. Altaf Saadi, a neurologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has been practicing medicine for five years, said that she recently realized that talking to patients with cognitive decline about guns in the home was a “blind spot” in her clinical practice. She looked up the American Academy of Neurology’s advice on treating dementia patients. Its guidelines suggest doctors consider asking about “access to firearms or other weapons” during a safety screen — but they don’t say what to do if a patient does have guns. With a dearth of national gun safety data, there are no scientific standards for when a health care provider should discuss gun access for people with cognitive impairment or at what point in dementia’s progression a person becomes unfit to handle a gun. Most doctors don’t ask about firearms, research has found. In a 2014 study, 58 percent of internists surveyed reported never asking whether patients have guns at home. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25557 - Posted: 10.10.2018

Richard Harris Doctors have gradually come to realize that people who survive a serious brush with death in the intensive care unit are likely to develop potentially serious problems with their memory and thinking processes. This dementia, a side-effect of intensive medical care, can be permanent. And it affects as many as half of all people who are rushed to the ICU after a medical emergency. Considering that 5.7 million Americans end up in intensive care every year, this is a major problem which, until recently, has been poorly appreciated by medical caregivers. Take, for example, the story of Richard Langford, a 63-year-old retired minister who lives with his mother in East Nashville. He went into the hospital for knee surgery 10 years ago, "because I was playing tennis with an 85-year-old and he beat my butt," Langford says with a chuckle. "So I wanted fresh knees to help me play better." But after that routine knee surgery, Langford developed a serious lung infection, which sent him to the intensive care unit. He had developed sepsis, a life-threatening condition sometimes called blood poisoning. With sepsis, the body overreacts to an infection and that can lead to crashing blood pressure, multiple organ failure and often death. During his four-week stay in the hospital and the rehab that followed, Langford suffered from long spells of delirium. That's a state of muddled thought, confusion and even at times hallucinations in some patients. All Langford remembers is the sensation of a near-death experience. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25553 - Posted: 10.10.2018

Sarah Boseley and agencies One in two women will develop dementia or Parkinson’s disease, or have a stroke, in their lifetime, new research suggests. About a third of men aged 45 and half of women of the same age are likely to go on to be diagnosed with one of the conditions, according to a study of more than 12,000 people. The researchers, from the University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands, said preventive measures could “substantially” reduce the burden of the illnesses. The findings have been published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. The health of 12,102 people was monitored between 1990 and 2016, with all participants initially under the age of 45. During this period 1,489 were diagnosed with dementia and 263 with parkinsonism – the generic term for a range of symptoms that can be seen in someone with Parkinson’s disease – while 1,285 had a stroke. The overall risk of a 45-year-old later developing one of the three conditions was 48% for women and 36% for men, the researchers said. Dementia was of greatest concern for women, who at 45 years old had a 25.9% risk of going on to develop the condition, compared with 13.7% for men. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 25517 - Posted: 10.02.2018

Linda Holmes On Sunday's CBS Sunday Morning, Ted Koppel reminisced about the many profiles of media giant Ted Turner that have aired on the network, beginning all the way back in the 1970s, when he hadn't started CNN but had bought Atlanta's baseball and basketball teams. Now, about to turn 80, Turner told Koppel about his diagnosis of Lewy body dementia. He acknowledged that in addition to memory difficulties, it causes exhaustion. In fact, as he noted with a tinge of humor, he wasn't able to bring the name of the disease to mind even as he was talking about how it affected him. Turner is still active, however: He was seen not only practicing yoga but continuing to wander his immense Montana ranch on horseback. According to the National Institutes of Health, Lewy body dementia is caused by protein deposits in the brain — named "Lewy bodies" after the neurologist who discovered them. The deposits cause changes in brain chemistry that disrupt thinking and behavior as well as movement. The disease also reportedly affected actor Robin Williams prior to his death in 2014. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25516 - Posted: 10.02.2018

Smokers have a higher risk of developing dementia, but giving up smoking can lower that risk, according to a new study in South Korea. Long-term quitters and those who had never smoked had 14 per cent and 19 per cent lower risks for dementia, respectively, compared to smokers who kept up with the habit, the study authors reported in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. "Smoking is well known for its thousands of negative health consequences, including cancers and cardiovascular diseases. However, its impact on our brain is relatively less emphasized," said lead study author Dr. Daein Choi of the Seoul National University College of Medicine. The article cites several case-control studies from the 1980s and 1990s that found smoking reduced the risk of Alzheimer's disease, but these studies were typically funded by tobacco companies. "There has been a misconception that the stimulant effect of nicotine might act as a protective factor for dementia," Choi told Reuters by email. Smoking and Alzheimer's risk Choi and colleagues studied health claims from a national database in Korea, focusing on 46,000 men over age 60. Based on questionnaire responses, the researchers classified the men as continual smokers, short-term quitters of less than four years, long-term quitters of four years or more, and never smokers. From the start of the study in 2002 until the end in 2013, 1,644 men were diagnosed with dementia. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 25472 - Posted: 09.21.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar A new study links daytime sleepiness with the accumulation of the plaques in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, published in Sleep, included 124 mentally healthy men and women, average age 60, who reported on their own daytime sleepiness and napping habits. An average of 15 years later, researchers administered PET and M.R.I. scans to detect the presence of beta-amyloid, the protein that clumps together to form plaques. After controlling for other variables, they found that compared with people who reported no daytime sleepiness, those who did had almost three times the risk of having plaques. Frequent napping, on the other hand, was not associated with plaque accumulation. “If you’re falling asleep when you’d rather be awake, that’s something that needs to be investigated,” said the lead author, Adam P. Spira, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It could be just insufficient sleep, or sleep disordered breathing, or other conditions or medications that are leading to it.” This is an observational study that does not prove cause and effect, Dr. Spira said, “but it provides more evidence for the link between disturbed sleep and the development of Alzheimer’s disease pathology.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25471 - Posted: 09.21.2018

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent Purging “zombie cells” from the brain could stave off the effects of dementia, a groundbreaking study has found. The research in mice is the first to show that so-called senescent cells, which enter a state of suspended animation as the body ages, contribute to neurodegeneration. Flushing out these cells was shown to prevent damage, potentially opening a new line of attack against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Prof Lawrence Rajendran, deputy director of the Dementia Research Institute at King’s College London who was not involved in the study, described the findings as “exciting”. “It is not only novel in its approach but also opens up new vistas for both diagnosis and therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s,” he said. The transformation of cells into the semi-dormant, senescent state is part of the body’s natural defences against cancer: when cells have accumulated mutations that could result in uncontrolled growth, the switch to senescence puts the brakes on. Initially senescent cells were thought to be inert bystanders – useless, but harmless. However, in the past decade that picture has changed as evidence has emerged linking senescent cells to Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and ageing itself. The latest study adds dementia to this list. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25470 - Posted: 09.20.2018

Lauren Gravitz When Kate Sieloff's husband, Karl, began acting strange, she didn't know where to turn. Her hard-working, affectionate spouse was suddenly having fits of anger and aggression. He stopped paying the bills. Karl, 56 at the time, was an engineer at General Motors, where he'd worked for more than 40 years. But some days he didn't even show up for work, finding it too hard to get out of bed. Because the problems were sporadic, most people in her life couldn't see what was going on. They told Kate, of Romeo, Mich., that she was imagining things. Doctors suggested that Karl was depressed and tried him on a variety of medications. When he began depleting their savings on impulsive purchases, and grew even more aggressive and violent, her son—a neurologist at the University of Michigan's medical center in Ann Arbor—insisted she bring Karl to his hospital for evaluation. Doctors there quickly diagnosed him with frontotemporal dementia. For Kate, the diagnosis was a relief, but she still felt overwhelmed and needed help coping with her husband's illness. Getting his diabetes medications under control, and starting him on a mood stabilizer and a new antidepressant helped control his mood swings while restoring some of his loving personality. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25456 - Posted: 09.17.2018

Bret Stetka Dr. Leslie Norins is willing to hand over $1 million of his own money to anyone who can clarify something: Is Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia worldwide, caused by a germ? By "germ" he means microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. In other words, Norins, a physician turned publisher, wants to know if Alzheimer's is infectious. It's an idea that just a few years ago would've seemed to many an easy way to drain your research budget on bunk science. Money has poured into Alzheimer's research for years, but until very recently not much of it went toward investigating infection in causing dementia. But this "germ theory" of Alzheimer's, as Norins calls it, has been fermenting in the literature for decades. Even early 20th century Czech physician Oskar Fischer — who, along with his German contemporary Dr. Alois Alzheimer, was integral in first describing the condition — noted a possible connection between the newly identified dementia and tuberculosis. If the germ theory gets traction, even in some Alzheimer's patients, it could trigger a seismic shift in how doctors understand and treat the disease. For instance, would we see a day when dementia is prevented with a vaccine, or treated with antibiotics and antiviral medications? Norins thinks it's worth looking into. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25435 - Posted: 09.11.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar Yet another reason to stop smoking: It may reduce your risk for dementia. Korean researchers studied 46,140 men, 60 and older, following them for an average of eight years with periodic health examinations. Over the course of the study, 1,644 people were given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. After controlling for age, body mass index, blood pressure, physical activity and other health and behavioral characteristics, they found that the less time men smoked, the less likely they were to have dementia. Compared with continual smokers, men who had quit for up to four years had a 13 percent lower risk, those who had quit for four years or more a 14 percent lower risk, and never-smokers a 19 percent lower risk. The study is in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. The authors acknowledge that they had no data on education level, which is a risk factor for dementia, and that the eight-year follow-up may not have been long enough to pick up all cases of dementia, a disease that develops slowly. “Smoking has not been well known as a risk factor for dementia,” said the lead author, Dr. Daein Choi, a researcher at the Seoul University College of Medicine. “Our findings suggest that smoking cessation, or reduced smoking, might be helpful in reducing the risk.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 25427 - Posted: 09.10.2018

By Kelly Servick Stay active; age gracefully. Behind this truism, there’s a pile of unanswered scientific questions. Researchers are still sorting out what it is about physical activity that seems to lower the risk of dementia later in life. Even more uncertain is whether the effects of exercise can alter the course of diseases that cause dementia—chief among them, Alzheimer’s disease—once they’ve already taken root. A study published today in Science offers some new clues. In mice that mimic a severe, genetic form of Alzheimer’s disease, a combination of treatments that prompt the growth of new brain cells and protect them from damage can mimic the beneficial effects of exercise in preventing memory decline. So could we someday bottle the effects of exercise to treat Alzheimer’s? And if so, what exactly would we need to bottle? Here’s a rundown of what we know, and what’s still controversial. What’s the link between exercise and brain aging? Many large studies suggest staying active and fit throughout life lowers the risk of memory problems later on. For example, a recent project tracked more than 1000 Swedish women over 4 decades and found that for those judged to have “high” cardiovascular fitness on entering the study—as measured by the maximum workload they could handle on a stationary cycle machine before exhaustion—the onset of dementia was delayed, on average, by 9.5 years compared to those with “medium” fitness. But such studies can’t rule out all other confounding factors that might influence dementia risk—from genes to other aspects of a healthy lifestyle common in regular exercisers. And they don’t explain what exercise actually does to the brain. Does exercise fight the effects of Alzheimer’s disease once someone has it? © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Scienc

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 25423 - Posted: 09.07.2018

By Rebecca Nebel Growing older may be inevitable, but getting Alzheimer’s disease is not. Although we can’t stop the aging process, which is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, there are many other factors that can be modified to lower the risk of dementia. Yet our ability to reduce Alzheimer’s risk and devise new strategies for prevention and treatment is impeded by a lack of knowledge about how and why the disease differs between women and men. There are tantalizing hints in the literature about factors that act differently between the sexes, including hormones and specific genes, and these differences could be important avenues of research. Unfortunately, in my experience, most studies of Alzheimer’s risk combine data for women and men. For that reason, researchers at the Society for Women’s Health Research Interdisciplinary Network on Alzheimer’s Disease recently published a review paper in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association that calls for greater analysis of research data by sex to stimulate new approaches that will improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s. We have some evidence, for example, that sex hormones such as estrogen influence the course of the disease, but we do not understand enough about why and how. Ovaries are the primary source of estrogen for premenopausal women, and surgical removal of a woman’s ovaries before menopause is associated with a higher risk of dementia. But using estrogen therapy after surgery until age 50 negates that risk. This fact suggests that estrogen may be protective in premenopausal women. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25418 - Posted: 09.05.2018