Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s disease’

The Wall Street Journal (4/21, Naik, http://tinyurl.com/videogames-memory) reports a  large new study casts doubt on whether videogame based programs can deliver what they promise.  The hallmark of a good brain-training program isn’t whether it simply improves a person’s ability to do the specific mental tasks in the training, but whether it also boosts other cognitive skills.  The latest study, published in the journal Nature, found no evidence for such improvement.  “Our brain-training groups got better at the tests they practiced, and the more they practiced, the better they got.  But there was no translation to any improvements in general cognitive function,” said study co-author Jessica Grahn, a scientist at the Medical and Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, England.   In North America, the market for such programs increased to $265 million in 2009 from $225 million a year earlier, according to SharpBrains, a market-research firm in San Francisco.  Some $95 million of last year’s revenue came from consumers who buy commercially available brain-training programs.  The rest came from professional users, including schools, insurance companies and retirement communities.  The six-week online study involved 11,430 healthy participants, all viewers of a BBC television science program. They were first tested for their existing baseline cognitive abilities, and then randomly assigned to one of three groups, each with a different set of tasks.  One group took part in online games aimed at improving skills linked to general intelligence.   A second test group did exercises to boost short-term memory, attention and mathematical and visual-spatial skills—functions typically targeted by commercial brain-training programs.   A third “control group” was asked to browse the Internet and seek out answers to general knowledge questions.  The conclusion: Those who did the brain-training exercises improved in the specific tasks that they practiced.  However, their improvement was generally no greater than the gains made by the control group surfing the Internet.  And none of the groups showed evidence of improvement in cognitive skills that weren’t specifically used in their tasks.

Read Full Post »

HealthDay (3/22, Preidt, http://tinyurl.com/MCI-Alzheimer) reported that “memory and thinking skills can deteriorate quickly in people with mild cognitive impairment, the stage before Alzheimer’s disease.”  The study involved 1,158 people, who averaged 79 years old. The group included 149 people with Alzheimer’s disease, 395 with mild cognitive impairment and 614 with no thinking or memory problems.  The scores of people with mild cognitive impairment declined twice as fast each year as did scores of those with no memory problems. The scores for people with Alzheimer’s declined four times as fast as those of participants with no cognitive problems.  The results are in the March 23 issue of Neurology.  “The changes in rate of decline occur as the brain atrophies due to the disease, first mainly in the hippocampus during the initial symptomatic stage, referred to as mild cognitive impairment, then in the temporal, parietal and frontal cortex during the dementing illness phase of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. David S. Knopman, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

Read Full Post »

The UK’s Telegraph (1/22, Alleyne http://tinyurl.com/copper-alzheimers) reports that some scientists have claimed people should remove old copper pipes from their homes or install special filters because the metal has been shown to build up in their bodies and cause serious health problems.  They have warned that tiny traces of copper from pipes can mix with tap water and then consumed by people.  Over a long period of time this leads to a build-up of copper in the body which then leads to Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes because the body cannot process the metal.  The study found people over 50 should also avoid vitamin and mineral pills that contain cooper and iron, lowering meat intake and avoid drinking water from copper pipes.  They should also donate blood regularly to reduce iron levels and taking zinc supplements to lower copper levels.  Copper and iron are essential when people are young as they help during the years when people are trying to have children.  But the body can no longer process them effectively when people move beyond 50 years old.  The study from the American Chemical Society found that people were at risk from copper as they aged.   The study, the “Risks of Copper and Iron Toxicity during Ageing in Humans”, was published in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Research in Toxicology journal.

Read Full Post »

HealthDay (1/12, Dotinga, http://tinyurl.com/alzheimers-smell) reported that, according to a study published in the Jan. 13 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, research in mice suggests that loss of smell could serve as an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.  “People with Alzheimer’s are already known to suffer from loss of smell.  But the new research pinpoints a direct link between development of amyloid plaques — the bits of gunk in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease — and a worsening sense of smell.  Researchers found that the plaques first develop in the part of the mouse brain that’s devoted to the sense of smell.  When tested, the mice with the plaques had to spend more time sniffing odors to remember them, and they had a hard time telling the difference between odors.  This is a revealing finding because, unlike a brain scan, a laboratory-designed olfactory test may be an inexpensive alternative to early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.”

Read Full Post »