The $14 million top-up came from a mix of old and new investors, co-led by Whitecap Venture Partners and Merck KGaA’s corporate VC arm, M Ventures, which also led the initial tranche of series A financing … The newly upsized funding will help Altoida add to its workforce, pay for intellectual property and regulatory filings and continue developing its tech platform to assess neurological function. [Read more…] about Altoida raises further $14 million to “democratize digital cognitive assessment at scale” via augmented reality (AR) and AI
The percentage of older Americans reporting serious problems with memory and thinking has declined in recent years — and higher education levels may be part of the reason, a new study finds. [Read more…] about Study: Education and lifestyle helped over a million older Americans avoid serious cognitive problems in 2017
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, sharing important brain/ mental health news plus a few fun optical illusions to tease and appreciate our unique human minds.
“We are a pharmacist and physician team who investigate the benefits and harms associated with substances of abuse like bath salts, phenibut, cannabis and synthetic marijuana. Through this work we have become intrigued about the therapeutic potential for some psychedelic drugs in the treatment of myriad psychiatric disorders, from PTSD to major depression … It is important to state that using ecstasy or molly products from the street would not help PTSD symptoms because the MDMA needs be used along with carefully crafted psychotherapy in a safe, controlled environment. Ecstasy or molly products purchased illicitly never specify the exact amount of MDMA they contain, so it is impossible to dose it properly for PTSD. Taking too much MDMA or exercising while taking MDMA can cause heart attacks, strokes, seizures and arrhythmias and can damage muscles and kidneys.”
“Your well-being can change: One common notion within psychology before the positive psychology movement was that individuals had a set happiness point, and that this point did not change drastically. So why bother trying to improve it, right? Diener helped to change that narrative by finding that certain significant events did in fact change well-being permanently. This suggests that interventions can have a lasting impact, and has paved the way for positive psychologists to focus on applying their research to improve the human condition.”
“ … differences in cognitive decline have been often observed in association with education or other related to quality of life. From our analysis it emerges that the type of work activity also contributes to the differences in normal and pathological cognitive aging”
“Understanding the mechanisms behind brain folding and connectivity will provide researchers with the knowledge foundation to uncover their role in developmental brain disorders. In the long term, clarifying the connection between brain structure and function may lead to early diagnostic tools for brain diseases … researchers like us have our work cut out for us as we continue trying to decipher the mystery of the most complex known structure in the universe.”
The Times They Are a‑Changin’ …
“eMindful and Ginger join Solera’s curated Mental and Behavioral Health Network, which already included leading meditation, mindfulness, and mental training app, Headspace. Solera continues to expand its suite of whole-person health solutions to support health journeys across acuity levels and clinical personas.”
And here are two older posts which have remained among our Most Read in 2021:
“Despite television, cell phones, and Twitter, traditional reading is still an important skill. Whether it is school textbooks, magazines, or regular books, people still read, though not as much as they used to. One reason that many people don’t read much is that they don’t read well. For them, it is slow, hard work and they don’t remember as much as they should … I summarize below what I think it takes to read with good speed and comprehension.”
One way to learn more about our visual system is to look at how we can trick it … give these ten illusions a try!
Wishing you and yours a Healthy & Prosperous 2022,
The SharpBrains Team
A recent study shows that work plays an active role in keeping our brains healthy. “We have demonstrated the role of working activity on cognitive performance”. Professor Raffaella Rumiati says … “Many studies have been focused on the factors influencing our brain aging and differences in cognitive decline have been often observed in association with education or other related to quality of life. From our analysis it emerges that the type of work activity also contributes to the differences in normal and pathological cognitive aging”. [Read more…] about Complex occupations help protect our brains from aging-related cognitive decline
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appears to be somehow linked to risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a new multigenerational study has found.
Parents and grandparents of people with ADHD have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia than people with no ADHD in their family, Swedish researchers said.
Specifically, parents of an ADHD child have a 34% higher risk of dementia and 55% higher risk of Alzheimer’s, the results showed. Grandparents have about an 11% increased risk of either condition. [Read more…] about Study finds ADHD is associated with dementia
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, providing this time a summary of the saga around the FDA approval of aducanumab (Aduhelm) as a supposed treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, plus a range of timely research findings and resources for lifelong brain health.
First, below are some key reads to navigate “probably the worst drug approval decision in recent U.S. history” — Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, the Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School who resigned rom the FDA Advisory Committee in protest.
“The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) believes that the FDA, in approving aducanumab (Aduhelm by Biogen) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, has failed in its responsibility to protect patients and families from unproven treatments with known harms.”
“The FDA’s approval of Aduhelm raises more questions and creates more problems than a new drug approval should. It’s time for governmental, professional, and advocacy entities to step in where Biogen and the FDA have failed and explain to patients, caregivers, and clinicians how this drug is not the “new day” in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and needs to be approached cautiously, if at all.” — Dr. Sam Gandy, Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where he holds the Mount Sinai Chair in Alzheimer’s Research
“In short, while the amyloid hypothesis has faltered, the approval of aducanumab, which is based primarily on this theory, suggests that the theory may once again dominate research, and could reduce the chances of finding more promising treatments. For example, tau protein, which also accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients — long before the amyloid protein does — has been shown to be closely associated with the cognitive impairment resulting from the disease … we must not interrupt research on biomarkers and new therapeutic approaches.”
#4. US Senator Joe Manchin calls for a new FDA Commissioner to replace current (acting) one who “has repeatedly ignored public health concerns and shown a dereliction of duty” over opioids and aducanumab:
“I write today concerning the lack of permanent leadership at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the continued tenure of Dr. Janet Woodcock as interim commissioner. Just last week, the FDA granted approval for Aduhelm (aducanumab), a treatment for Alzheimer’s, despite its advisory panel voting nearly unanimously against its approval, with no panel member voting in favor of approval”
(Let’s hope something useful emerges from this very unhealthy FDA decision. Quite disturbing, though, to notice the links between the opioid epidemic and the recent Aduhelm approval.)
“Under the broad label that FDA approved, the drug is available to all Alzheimer’s patients, and the agency did not place limits on treatment duration suggesting that patients could remain on the drug indefinitely. We are troubled by reports that those factors could lead the drug to command “somewhere between” the $37 billion we currently spend on Medicare Part B and the $90 billion we currently spend on Medicare Part D. This level of potential new spending, particularly for just one product with limited evidence of clinical efficacy thus far, tests the program’s resiliency.”
The stakes couldn’t be higher.
Now let’s review other important developments in June.
” … big do-it-yourself investing and trading venues like Vanguard Group, Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab Corp. are strengthening some of the ways they detect possible signs of decline. Among other things, all three firms check for clients’ difficulty navigating security protocols or need for frequent password resets. In such cases, a designated family member might be informed.
Vanguard also checks client-call recordings for keywords—such as “confused” and “dementia”—that might signal trouble.”
“While retirement schemes like the 401(k) and similar programs in other countries are typically introduced to ensure the welfare of aging adults, our research suggests they need to be designed carefully to avoid unintended and significant adverse consequences. When people consider retirement, they should weigh the benefits with the significant downsides of a sudden lack of mental activity. A good way to ameliorate these effects is to stay engaged in social activities and continue to use your brains in the same way you did when you were working.
In short, we show that if you rest, you rust.”
“Digital mental health can be viewed as a way to extend the mental resources that we have,” said David Mohr, who directs the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. A step-care model, for example, would allow patients with milder symptoms to be treated via technology while reserving in-person care for patients who need something more.
“Pear is one of nine companies invited to participate in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Precertification Pilot Program. Pear has developed and commercialized the first three FDA-authorized PDTs, has 14 product candidates, and is scaling its platform for third-party product distribution opportunities. The Company’s three FDA-authorized products, reSET®, reSET‑O® and Somryst®, address large market opportunities with more than 20 million patients suffering from substance and opioid use disorders and more than 30 million from chronic insomnia, in the U.S. alone, respectively.”
“(Research findings) suggest that cognitive function may need to be monitored closely in individuals with affective disorders, as these individuals may be at particular risk of greater cognitive decline.”
#11. Smarter cars are coming soon … : Eye-tracking pioneer Smart Eye acquires MIT spin-off Affectiva to augment driver monitoring systems and more
Finally, a quick cognitive exercise. Given the universal beauty of math, you don’t need to speak Spanish to try this quick teaser: Brain teasers en español: ¿cuál es el número que falta en el cuarto triángulo?
Wishing you a happy and healthy summer,
The SharpBrains Team