Good Q&A on Mild Cognitive Impairment

Cop­ing With Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment (NYT blog):

About 10 to 15 per­cent of adults age 65 and old­er are believed to have mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment — a con­di­tion com­mon­ly char­ac­ter­ized by mem­o­ry prob­lems, well beyond those asso­ci­at­ed with nor­mal aging.… The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to researchers set out to rec­ti­fy this lack of atten­tion by writ­ing “Liv­ing With Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment,” pub­lished recent­ly by Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press. One of its authors, Nicole Ander­son, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, spoke with me at length, and our con­ver­sa­tion has been edit­ed for clar­i­ty and length.

Q. What changes in the brain are observed with M.C.I.?

A. A vast major­i­ty of research has been done on peo­ple with “amnes­tic” M.C.I. – the kind involv­ing mem­o­ry loss. There we see shrink­age of key brain areas impor­tant for mem­o­ry: the hip­pocam­pus and oth­er areas around it in the medi­al tem­po­ral lobes. We can now also scan for amy­loid pro­tein in the brain, and often we will see ele­vat­ed levels.

Q. Yet high con­cen­tra­tions of amy­loid don’t always sig­ni­fy dementia.

A. That brings up the whole notion of cog­ni­tive reserve. This refers to the idea that peo­ple can engage in cer­tain activ­i­ties in their lives — get­ting high­er lev­els of edu­ca­tion, exer­cise, eat­ing a healthy diet, being bilin­gual — that help pro­tect them against the clin­i­cal impact of var­i­ous brain dis­eases, espe­cial­ly dementia.

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SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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