Latest Research News

Can computer use, crafts and games slow or prevent age-related memory loss?

Americans with a college education live longer without dementia and Alzheimer's

Data from the large, long-running U.S. Health and Retirement Study found that healthy cognition characterized most of the people with at least a college education into their late 80s, while those who didn’t complete high school had good cognition up until their 70s.

Socially active 60-year-olds face lower dementia risk

Data from the Whitehall II study, tracking 10,228 participants for 30 years, found that increased social contact at age 60 is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing dementia later in life. Someone who saw friends almost daily at age 60 was 12% less likely to develop dementia than someone who only saw one or two friends every few months.

Disrupted sleep in one's 50s, 60s raises Alzheimer's risk

A study involving 95 healthy older adults found that adults reporting a decline in sleep quality in their 40s and 50s had more amyloid-beta in their brains later in life, while those reporting poorer sleep in their 50s and 60s had more tau tangles. Those with high levels of tau protein were more likely to lack the synchronized brain waves during deep NREM sleep that are associated with a good night's sleep, and the more tau protein, the less synchronized these brain waves were.

Periodontitis raises dementia risk

A 10-year South Korean study using data from 262,349 older adults (50+) has found that those with chronic periodontitis had a 6% higher risk for dementia than did people without periodontitis. This connection was true despite behaviors such as smoking, consuming alcohol, and remaining physically active.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-03/ags-pmr031519.php

Brain scans from over 4,000 people, across the age range (9 months to 94 years) and including 1,385 Alzheimer's patients, has revealed an early divergence between those who go on to develop Alzheimer’s and those who age normally. This divergence is seen in early atrophy of the

A fruitfly study suggests that losing neurons is not necessarily a bad thing. The study used fruitflies genetically engineered to express human amyloid-beta proteins in their brains. When neuronal death was blocked, the flies developed even worse memory problems, worse motor coordination problems, died earlier and their brain degenerated faster.

Mobile game detects Alzheimer's risk

A specially designed mobile phone game called Sea Hero Quest has found that gaming data can distinguish between those people who are genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease ond those who are not. The game is designed to test spatial navigation skills — one of the first cognitive areas affected in Alzheimer's.

A standard memory and thinking test could not distinguish between the risk and non-risk groups.

Memory tests predict brain atrophy and Alzheimer's disease

Data from the Harvard Aging Brain Study found that higher amyloid beta levels were associated with increasing anxiety symptoms in cognitively normal older adults. The results suggest that worsening anxious-depressive symptoms may be an early predictor of elevated amyloid beta levels.

The study involved 270 cognitively healthy older adults (62-90). For five years, participants were annually assessed for depression, apathy-anhedonia, dysphoria, and anxiety.

A study has shown new technology can quickly and non-invasively detect reduced blood capillaries in the back of the eye that are an early indication of Alzheimer's. It also shows that these signs can help distinguish between Alzheimer's and

A very long-running study involving 290 people at risk of Alzheimer's has found that, in those 81 people who developed

A long-term study of nearly 3,000 older adults (57-85) has found that those who couldn’t identify at least four out of five common odors were more than twice as likely as those with a normal sense of smell to develop dementia within five years.

Of the participants, some 14% could name just three out of five, 5% could identify only two scents, 2% just one, and 1% couldn’t identify a single smell.

Alzheimer's disease is associated with abnormalities in the vast network of blood vessels in the brain, but it hasn’t been known how this affects cognition. A study has now shown that a blood-clotting protein called fibrinogen plays a part.

The study found that fibrinogen, after leaking from the blood into the brain, activates the brain's immune cells and triggers them to destroy synapses, which are critical for neuronal communication.

It’s been known that decreased blood flow in the brain occurs in people with Alzheimer's, and recent studies suggest that brain blood flow deficits are one of the earliest detectable symptoms of dementia. A study has now shown why it occurs: a small percentage of capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the brain, are blocked by white blood cells stuck to the inside of the capillaries.

Recent research has shown that capilleries are vital for monitoring and directing blood flow around the brain.

New findings identify a mechanism that accelerates aging in the brain and gives rise to Alzheimer's disease.

The findings center on “enhancers”, which turn the activity of genes up or down based on influences like aging and environmental factors. Comparing enhancers in brain cells of people at varying stages of Alzheimer's and healthy people has revealed that in normal aging, there is a progressive loss of important epigenetic marks on enhancers. This loss is accelerated in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

Aging linked to impaired garbage collection in the brain

A mouse study has shown that, as cells age, their ability to remove damaged proteins and structures declines.

Link found between chronic inflammation and Alzheimer's gene risk

Data from the Framingham Heart Study has found carriers of the ApoE4 gene were much more likely to develop Alzheimer’s if they also had chronic low-grade inflammation. Indeed, the researchers suggest that, in the absence of inflammation, there might be no difference of Alzheimer's risk between ApoE4 and non-ApoE4 carriers.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/buso-lfb101818.php

Alzheimer's gene linked to damage to brain connections

A study has found that synapses in people who had died with Alzheimer's contained clumps of clusterin and clumps of amyloid beta. These protein clumps may be damaging the links between neurons.

A study involving 4,050 people with late-onset Alzheimer's disease (mean age 80) has classified them into six groups based on their cognitive functioning at the time of diagnosis. A genetic study found two of the groups showed strong genetic associations.

Five new risk genes for Alzheimer's disease

Genetic data from more than 94,000 individuals has revealed five new risk genes for Alzheimer's disease, and confirmed 20 known others. The new genes are: IQCK, ACE, ADAM10, ADAMTS1 and WWOX.

The findings support developing evidence that groups of genes associated with specific biological processes, such as cell trafficking, lipid transport, inflammation and the immune response, are "genetic hubs" that are an important part of the disease process.

Accumulating evidence suggests that tau spreads through brain tissue like an infection, traveling from

Alzheimer's gene affects IQ from childhood

Analysis of some old longitudinal studies has found that those carrying the APOE4 gene scored lower on IQ tests during childhood and adolescence. The effect was much stronger in girls than in boys, and affected reasoning most strongly.

IQ scores were lower by 1.91 points for each APOE4 allele carried. But boys scored only an average of 0.33 points lower, while girls scored almost 3 points lower for each APOE4 allele.

Almost all the participants (92%) were white.

Data from a ten-year study involving 345 Alzheimer's patients has found that cholinesterase inhibitors work better with those who don't have the gene CHRFAM7A.

Poor sleep has been associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease, and this has been thought to be in part because the protein amyloid beta increases with sleep deprivation. A new study explains more.

Experiments with mice show that sleep deprivation also rapidly increases levels of the other key Alzheimer’s disease protein, tau tangles.

The work built on findings that tau is high in older people who sleep poorly, and that, when people are kept awake all night, their tau levels rise by about 50%.

A small study has found that a 12-week exercise program significantly improved cognition in both older adults with

A Japanese study looking at 128 patients' fecal samples, found that fecal concentrations of ammonia, indole, skatole and phenol were higher in dementia patients compared to those without dementia, while levels of beneficial Bacteroides were lower in dementia patients.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/aha-it012519.php

A clinical trial involving 9361 older adults (50+) with hypertension but without diabetes or history of stroke has found that intensive control of blood pressure significantly reduced the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.

While there was also a 15% reduction in dementia, this result did not reach statistical significance. This may have been due to the small number of new cases of dementia in the study groups.

Survey data from 6,807 Danish older adults (average age 60) in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, has found that being distressed in late midlife is associated with a higher risk of dementia in later life.

The survey measured “vital exhaustion”, which is operationalized as feelings of unusual fatigue, increased irritability and demoralization and can be considered an indicator of psychological distress. Vital exhaustion is suggested to be a response to unsolvable problems in individuals' lives, in particular when being incapable of adapting to prolonged exposure to stressors.

Poor sleep has been associated with Alzheimer's disease risk, but a new study suggests a specific aspect of sleep is important.

The study, involving 119 older adults (60+), of whom 80% were cognitively normal and the remainder very mildly impaired, found that decreased slow-wave sleep coincided with higher levels of tau in the brain and a higher tau-to-amyloid ratio in the cerebrospinal fluid.

The APOE gene, the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, is known to be involved in cholesterol and lipid metabolism. Now the largest ever genetic study of Alzheimer’s disease, using DNA from more than 1.5 million people, has identified 90 points across the genome that were associated with an increased risk of both cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Data from 1,215 older adults, of whom 173 (14%) were African-American, has found that, although brain scans showed no significant differences between black and white participants, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) showed significantly lower levels of the brain protein tau in African-Americans.

A number of studies have found that physical exercise can help delay the onset of dementia, however the ability of exercise to slow the decline once dementia has set in is a more equivocal question. A large new study answers this question in the negative.

A small Japanese study has found evidence that those with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) show a specific decline in their ability to recognize faces, and this is accompanied by changes in the way they scan faces.

The study involved 18 patients with aMCI and 18 age-matched healthy controls. Participants were tested on their ability to perceive and remember images of faces and houses.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a precursor of Alzheimer's disease, although having MCI does not mean you are definitely going to progress to Alzheimer's.

A large study using data from the famous Framingham Heart Study has compared changes in dementia onset over the last three decades. The study found that over time the age of onset has increased while the length of time spent with dementia has decreased.

Data from over 11,500 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) cohort has found evidence that orthostatic hypotension in middle age may increase the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia 20 years later.

Orthostatic hypotension is the name for the experience of dizziness or light-headedness on standing up. Previous research has suggested an association between orthostatic hypotension and cognitive decline in older adults.

Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain involved in Alzheimer’s?

A Canadian study involving 40 older adults (59-81), none of whom were aware of any major memory problems, has found that those scoring below 26 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) dementia screening test also showed shrinking of the anterolateral entorhinal cortex.

A study involving 35 adults with MCI found that those who exercised four times a week over a six-month period increased their volume of gray matter.

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