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
Every seven seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with dementia. A typical case that I often see in my practice is as follows: A 76-year-old woman has a two-year history of progressive worsening of short-term memory and cognitive decline. She can’t recall the names of her grandchildren and is devastated by her deteriorating abilities.
However, this is not the first time in her life that she has had feelings of loss and despair. Over the past 30 years, she has intermittently struggled with depression and anxiety. Her family has many questions: Does she have dementia or Alzheimer’s? Could her depression have led to a dementia diagnosis? Is it only depression and not dementia? These are all good questions and the collective answer to them is “yes.” [Read more…] about Debate: Are depression and dementia two sides of the same coin? And, if they are, how to best approach treatment?
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring ten timely resources and research findings for lifelong brain and mental fitness.
#1. Let’s start with a fascinating story and study 🙂
Study with 330 centenarians finds that cognitive decline is not inevitable … (Henne Holstege, PhD, assistant professor at Amsterdam University Medical Center) said her interest in researching aging and cognitive health was inspired by the “fascinating” story of Hendrikje van Andel Schipper, who died at age 115 in 2005 “completely cognitively healthy.”
#2. Neuroscientist Lisa Genova, author of the beautiful novel Still Alice, releases non-fiction book on Memory: “It is sobering to realize that three out of four prisoners who are later exonerated through DNA evidence were initially convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony. “You can be 100 percent confident in your vivid memory,” Genova writes, “and still be 100 percent wrong” … Genova assures her readers that only two per cent of Alzheimer’s cases are of the strictly inherited, early-onset kind. For most of us, our chances of developing the disease are highly amenable to interventions…”
#3. Timely tips for the weekend: Shape your environment, shape your mind
- Surround yourself with nature
- Create opportunities for awe
- Clear the clutter
#4. “For a mission to succeed, high mental and cognitive function would be absolutely critical; astronauts would be called on to perform demanding tasks in a demanding environment. Losing 20 IQ points halfway to Mars is not an option … Stress—an emotional or mental state resulting from tense or overwhelming circumstances—and the body’s response to it, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory—may be the chief challenge that astronauts face.” Next in NASA’s path to Mars: Overcoming astronauts’ cognitive and mental health challenges
#5. Study: Depression affects visual perception … making it more accurate (based on a cool optical illusion)
#6. It’s good to have more tools in the neuro toolkit…assuming we use them wisely: Emerging applications of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS): e‑sports skills training, cognitive enhancement in older adults
#8. Mental Health in the Digital Age: From digital therapeutics to personalized mental health solutions: Pear Therapeutics expands platform via partnerships with Empatica, etectRx, KeyWise, and Winterlight
#9. The award was won last year by Indian village teacher Ranjitsinh Disale; who will be next? Final day to nominate teachers for the $1M Global Teacher Prize 2021
#10. And last, but certainly not least, let’s welcome Mental Health Month (May) by appreciating our beautiful brains
Wishing you a mentally healthy and cognitively stimulating month of May,
The SharpBrains Team
A Neuroscientist’s Poignant Study of How We Forget Most Things in Life (The New Yorker):
Any study of memory is, in the main, a study of its frailty. In “Remember,” an engrossing survey of the latest research, Lisa Genova explains that a healthy brain quickly forgets most of what passes into conscious awareness. The fragments of experience that do get encoded into long-term memory are then subject to “creative editing.” To remember an event is to reimagine it; in the reimagining, we inadvertently introduce new information, often colored by our current emotional state. A dream, a suggestion, and even the mere passage of time can warp a memory. It is sobering to realize that three out of four prisoners who are later exonerated through DNA evidence were initially convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony. “You can be 100 percent confident in your vivid memory,” Genova writes, “and still be 100 percent wrong.” [Read more…] about Neuroscientist Lisa Genova, author of the beautiful novel Still Alice, releases non-fiction book on Memory
Memory relies mostly on the temporal lobes (see green area) and also the frontal lobes (red), so those are the areas that will get some good neuronal activation when readers raised in the US try to remember the missing words in the American proverbs below.
Now, if you were raised outside the US and are not familiar with those proverbs you will have to use your reasoning skills more than your memory skills — In that case, frontal lobe activation will be wider and more intense.
Conversely, if you were raised in the US you will find the international proverbs below to be more challenging. You will not be able to remember them, as you probably never learned them, but you should be able to figure them out for extra frontal lobe, cognitive exercise.
Here’s the task: Guess the missing words of each US and international proverb below. Get a pen and piece of paper and write your answers before you check the solutions 🙂
A new study out of Colorado State University has found that physical stress in one’s job may be associated with faster brain aging and poorer memory.
Aga Burzynska, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and her research team connected occupational survey responses with brain-imaging data from 99 cognitively normal older adults, age 60 to 79. They found that those who reported high levels of physical stress in their most recent job had smaller volumes in the hippocampus and performed poorer on memory tasks. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is critical for memory and is affected in both normal aging and in dementia.