Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Alzheimer’s Prevention and Diagnostic Tests

Brain Health NewsRoundup of sev­er­al insight­ful arti­cles and recent research:

Fish Oil May Help Pre­vent Alzheimer’s (Wash­ing­ton Post)

- “The omega‑3 fat­ty acids found in fish oil might play an impor­tant role in pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease, accord­ing to a research team at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les (UCLA).”

- “Pub­lish­ing in the Dec. 26 issue of the Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science, the sci­en­tists demon­strat­ed that the omega‑3 fat­ty acid docosa­hexaenoic acid (DHA) increas­es the pro­duc­tion of LR11, a pro­tein that is found at reduced lev­els in Alzheimer’s patients. LR11 is known to destroy the pro­tein that forms the plaques asso­ci­at­ed with the dis­ease, the researchers explained.”
— “Alzheimer’s is a debil­i­tat­ing neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease that caus­es mem­o­ry loss, demen­tia, per­son­al­i­ty change and ulti­mate­ly death. The Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion esti­mates that 5.1 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are cur­rent­ly afflict­ed with the dis­ease. The asso­ci­a­tion pre­dicts that may increase to between 11 mil­lion and 16 mil­lion peo­ple by 2050.”

Find­ing Alzheimer’s Before a Mind Fails’ (New York Times)

- “Ms. Ker­ley is part of an ambi­tious new sci­en­tif­ic effort to find ways to detect Alzheimer’s dis­ease at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble moment. Although the dis­ease may seem like a calami­ty that strikes sud­den­ly in old age, sci­en­tists now think it begins long before the mind fails.”

- “Many sci­en­tists believe the best hope of progress, maybe the only hope, lies in detect­ing the dis­ease ear­ly and devis­ing treat­ments to stop it before brain dam­age becomes exten­sive. Bet­ter still, they would like to inter­vene even soon­er, by iden­ti­fy­ing risk fac­tors and treat­ing peo­ple pre­ven­tive­ly  the same strat­e­gy that has marked­ly low­ered death rates from heart dis­ease, stroke and some can­cers.”

- “Some for­get­ful­ness is nor­mal. Dis­trac­tion, stress, fatigue and med­ica­tions can con­tribute. A jok­ing rule of thumb about Alzheimer’s is actu­al­ly close to the truth: it’s O.K. to for­get where you put your car keys, as long as you remem­ber what a key is for. But wors­en­ing for­get­ful­ness is a cause for con­cern.”

Find­ing Alzheimer’s (Mind­Hacks)

- “Researchers are increas­ing­ly talk­ing about ‘cog­ni­tive reserve’, a mea­sure of ‘wear and tear’ or ‘fit­ness’ of the brain, with the idea that the dis­ease hap­pens where var­i­ous fac­tors tip the brain ‘over the thresh­old’ into phys­i­cal decline.”

Build Your Cog­ni­tive Reserve-Yaakov Stern (our inter­view with a lead­ing Cog­ni­tive Reserve researcher)

- “The con­cept of a Cog­ni­tive Reserve has been around since 1989, when a post mortem analy­sis of 137 peo­ple with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease showed that some patients exhib­it­ed few­er clin­i­cal symp­toms than their actu­al pathol­o­gy sug­gest­ed. These patients also showed high­er brain weights and greater num­ber of neu­rons when com­pared to age-matched con­trols. The inves­ti­ga­tors hypoth­e­sized that the patients had a larg­er “reserve” of neu­rons and abil­i­ties that enable them to off­set the loss­es caused by Alzheimer’s. Since then, the con­cept of Cog­ni­tive Reserve has been defined as the abil­i­ty of an indi­vid­ual to tol­er­ate pro­gres­sive brain pathol­o­gy with­out demon­strat­ing clin­i­cal cog­ni­tive symp­toms.”

- AF (Alvaro Fer­nan­dez): …let’s now fast for­ward, say, 60 years from our high-school years, and sup­pose that per­sons A and B both tech­ni­cal­ly have Alzheimer’s (plaques and tan­gles appear in the brain), but only A is show­ing the dis­ease symp­toms. What may explain this dis­crep­an­cy?

- YS (Yaakov Stern): Indi­vid­u­als who lead men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing lives, through edu­ca­tion, occu­pa­tion and leisure activ­i­ties, have reduced risk of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s. Stud­ies sug­gest that they have 35–40% less risk of man­i­fest­ing the dis­ease. The pathol­o­gy will still occur, but they are able to cope with it bet­ter. Some won’t ever be diag­nosed with Alzheimer’s because they don’t present any symp­toms. In stud­ies that fol­low healthy elders over time and then get autop­sies, up to 20% of peo­ple who did not present any sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem in the dai­ly lives have full blown Alzheimer’s pathol­o­gy in their brains.

Food for thought for our New Year Res­o­lu­tions: we can only expect bet­ter tests in the future to detect Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment and Alzheimer’s. We will also see good drugs to help delay or per­haps ful­ly pre­vent the dis­ease. Now, the good news TODAY is that there is no need to wait for tomor­row to reduce the risk of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms. We can do so via our very own, side-effect free, lifestyle options regard­ing nutri­tion, phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise, and stress man­age­ment.

Leave a Reply...

Loading Facebook Comments ...

5 Responses

  1. jen_chan says:

    The omega‑3 fat­ty acids found in fish oil might play an impor­tant role in pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease, accord­ing to a research team at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les (UCLA).”
    — Is this true? There are many claims that say things along the same lines, but how sure are we that fish oil can real­ly
    pre­vent Alzheimer’s dis­ease?

  2. Viv says:

    Some great advice — glad I am tak­ing the omega oils!

  3. David says:

    You might be inter­est­ed in this blog Omega‑3 fat­ty acids – what have we learned? , which is based on a paper The paper,Omega‑3 fat­ty acids and the devel­op­ment of cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties: a review of DHA sup­ple­men­ta­tion stud­ies by Car­ol L. Cheatham which appears in CAB Reviews: Per­spec­tives in Agri­cul­ture, Vet­eri­nary Sci­ence, Nutri­tion and Nat­ur­al Resources, 2008, 3, No. 001.

Leave a Reply

Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Search in our archives

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

Follow us and Engage via…

RSS Feed

Watch All Recordings Now (40+ Speakers, 12+ Hours)