Study Shows ‘Name Game’ Hints at Alzheimer’s

Some researchers call it the “Name Game.”

The way our brain responds to hearing the names of celebrities such as Britney Spears or Angelina Jolie may end up telling us whether we’re at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, say experts such as Michael Seidenberg.

Seidenberg, a psychology professor at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, has spent several years working on research that one day could serve as an early diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s.

Currently there is none. Nor is there a cure. By the time a patient complains about being confused or forgetting simple details such as knowing what day it is, the disease usually has been present for more than a decade, Seidenberg said .

“If we were able to slow down Alzheimer’s by five years … we would cut in half” the number of people with the disease, he said.

Seidenberg collaborated with three other doctors in the research funded by the National Institutes of Health. They selected about a 100 seniors from Milwaukee ranging in age from 65 to 85 who showed no symptoms of memory loss.

The second round of testing was conducted more than a year ago at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where researchers used a type of magnetic resonance imaging that allows them to see activity in parts of the brain associated with memory.

Volunteers were divided into groups that included those with no memory problems or risk factors for Alzheimer’s and those who either had a family history associated with the disease or had tested positive for the gene that could increase the risk.

While lying inside the scanner, participants watched the names flash in front of them. Using a button, they responded either yes or no to indicate whether they recognized them. The names included Albert Einstein, George Clooney and Marilyn Monroe as well as lesser-known individuals.

For volunteers considered at risk, the results showed a difference in how their brains worked when retrieving the information, Seidenberg said.

“Somehow their brain is working in a different way. It’s showing more activity,” he said. “We’ve come to hypothesize that in order to do the task, the brain is working harder, and other regions of the brain have to come into play to compensate.”

Seidenberg, who will repeat the test next year, hopes that by tracking the participants, researchers eventually can map a relationship that could serve as an early marker to indicate the disease’s presence.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association based in Chicago, as many as 5.3 million people in the U.S. have the disease, the sixth leading cause of death. Health care costs are three times higher for people with Alzheimer’s than for others 65 and older. The number of Alzheimer’s patients is expected to nearly double every 20 years, experts say.

“The combination of tools we would like is an early marker and therapy,” said Bill Thies, chief medical and scientific officer for the organization.

“We are short on both sides at the moment.”

Via Study shows ‘Name Game’ hints at Alzheimer’s — chicagotribune.com.

Alzheimer’s from A to Z

Today marks the end of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, which brings to light the progressive and fatal brain disease named for German doctor Alois Alzheimer.

The disorder affects 5.3 million Americans. It was brought to the forefront by the psychiatrist in 1906, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in care, support and research for the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and progresses with time, the organization says. It destroys brain cells, results in memory loss, and changes thinking and behavior, according to the group’s Web site. Alzheimer’s accounts for 50 percent to 70 percent of dementia cases.

The disease affects more than those it afflicts. The direct and indirect health care bills are staggering, with costs to Medicare, Medicaid and businesses of those suffering with Alzheimer’s and other dementias reaching more than $148 billion annually.

There is no cure for the disease, and according to the association’s Facts and Figures publication, Alzheimer’s patients with one or more added serious medical conditions — from diabetes to coronary heart disease — drive up Medicare and Medicaid costs. Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes and Alzheimer’s or the other related dementias had 64 percent more hospital stays than those with just diabetes. The average costs were $20,655 compared with $12,979, respectively.

Medicare beneficiaries with coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s or other dementias had 42 percent more hospital stays than those with just coronary heart disease. The average costs were $20,780 versus $14,640, respectively.

The report says that every 70 seconds someone in the U.S. develops the disease. That’s one reason why the association’s mission is to eliminate the disease through the advancement of research and to provide and enhance care and support for those with the disease.

For information see alz.org or contact the Alzheimer’s Association 24-hour help line at 800-272-3900.

Via Alzheimer’s from A to Z

Diet Rich in Polyphenols, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Cuts Alzheimer Risk

A new Spanish study has found that polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids in food, patented as an LMN diet, can boost the birth of new neurons, which could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers led by Mercedes Unzeta, professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Universitat Autrnoma de Barcelona (UAB) experimented on two groups of mice to come up with their findings.

For 40 days (Equivalent to nearly five human years) one group was given a normal diet and the other was fed on the same diet enriched with LMN cream.

It was found that those mice, which had been fed on LMN cream, had a considerably higher number of stem cells and new differentiated cells, in the olfactory bulb and hippocampus.

The second objective was to verify if the LMN cream could prevent damage caused by oxidation or neural death in cell cultures.

Scientists also discovered that a pretreatment with LMN cream could reduce and even prevent any oxidative damage to cells.

Thus, it was concluded that an LMN diet could induce the production of new cells in the adult brain, and strengthen neural networks, which are worn down by age and Alzheimer’s disease.he study will appear in the December issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Beverages like tea, beer and wine and grapes, olive oil, cocoa, nuts contain polyphenols.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids can be had from the consumption of blue fish and vegetables like corn, soya beans, sunflowers and pumpkins.

Via Diet Rich in Polyphenols, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Cuts Alzheimer Risk

Project Lifesaver is a Lifeline to the Missing

When loved ones are missing, finding them quickly can mean the difference between life and death.

Project Lifesaver helps to locate adults and children who wander off due to autism, Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome, stroke, dementia and other conditions that can cause short-term memory problems, thereby reducing their risk for serious injury and death when they are alone.

Via TwinCities.com

Music Prompts Memory in Alzheimer Patients

Therapists and doctors who treat Alzheimer’s are now using music not only to soothe and entertain their patients but to restore some cognitive function. For decades it’s been recognized that Alzheimer’s patients can still remember and sing songs long after they’ve stopped recognizing names and faces. Now it’s thought that those tunes can provide a pathway back to memories otherwise lost. One claims intensive music therapy can lead to an increase of 50% on cognitive-function tests.

Via Newser

Heartland of Riverview Offers Safety Tips for Alzheimer Care

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be overwhelming.

For the family member afflicted with Alzheimer’s, even routine daily events such as hearing or seeing evening newscasts, can be truly terrifying. As a result, one of the greatest challenges for the caregiver is creating a safe and nurturing environment for their loved one.

Via Heartland of Riverview Offers Safety Tips for Alzheimer Care