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First, do no harm? Common anticholinergic meds seen to increase dementia risk

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Com­mon­ly Pre­scribed Meds Could Raise Demen­tia Risk (Web­MD):

Doc­tors often pre­scribe anti­cholin­er­gic drugs for a vari­ety of ills. But a new study sug­gests they may increase the risk of demen­tia in old­er patients.

These med­i­cines include every­thing from Benadryl (diphen­hy­dramine) to cer­tain antipsy­chotics and Parkinson’s meds. They’re used to treat a wide range of oth­er con­di­tions, includ­ing depres­sion, chron­ic obstruc­tive pul­monary dis­ease, over­ac­tive blad­der, aller­gies, and gas­troin­testi­nal dis­or­ders.

Anti­cholin­er­gic drugs help con­tract and relax mus­cles, and work by block­ing acetyl­choline, a chem­i­cal that trans­mits mes­sages in the ner­vous sys­tem … the new British study found that peo­ple aged 55 and old­er who took strong anti­cholin­er­gic med­ica­tions dai­ly for three years or more had a 50% increased risk of demen­tia Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Merzenich: Brain Plasticity offers Hope for Everyone

What­ev­er you strug­gle with in a sense as it stems from your neu­rol­o­gy, the inher­ent plas­tic­i­ty of the brain gives you a basis for improve­ment. This is a way under­uti­lized and under-appre­ci­at­ed resource that well all have.” Dr. Michael Merzenich on the Brain Sci­ence Pod­cast #54, 2/13/09.

Recent­ly there has been grow­ing con­tro­ver­sy about the effec­tive­ness of com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams. As a co-founder of Posit Sci­ence, Inc. Dr. Michael Merzenich is a staunch defend­er of the meth­ods his com­pa­ny uses to val­i­date the pro­grams that they have devel­oped. But for the pur­pos­es of this essay, I want to share some of the key ideas we dis­cussed dur­ing his recent inter­view on the Brain Sci­ence Pod­cast.

First of all, I asked him to dis­cuss some of the high­lights of his long career. Since he was one of the first neu­ro­sci­en­tists to embrace the con­cepts of neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty I was curi­ous about how this came about. While he did have some expo­sure to the ani­mal evi­dence as a grad­u­ate stu­dent, it was actu­al­ly his expe­ri­ence with the inven­tion of the cochlear implant that con­vinced Dr. Merzenich of the real-world, prac­ti­cal impli­ca­tions of brain plas­tic­i­ty. The qual­i­ty of the Read the rest of this entry »

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