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.

How to Get Early Intervention Autism Therapy for Your Child

The good news is that it looks like very early intervention programs for children with autism really do help. The bad news is that services can be hard to find, and expensive.

Toddlers who participated in a study testing the Early Start Denver model for early intervention showed improved language skills and IQ, compared with children who didn’t get the specialized training, which emphasizes social skills and communication. The intensive therapy, which included 20 hours a week at home with a trained therapist and additional time working with parents, increased the IQ of the children by 18 points, compared with 7 IQ points in children who got more standard therapy.

Researchers and pediatricians have increasingly thought “the earlier, the better” when it comes to autism treatment, but this is the first hard evidence that working intensively with children who are younger than 2½ helps reduce the social and language deficits typical of autism. The study, which involved 48 children ages 18 months to 30 months, was published online Monday in Pediatrics.

Via How to Get Early Intervention Autism Therapy For Your Child

Beating Alzheimer’s with Sudoku

Think of it as gymnastics for the brain — a new frontier for physical fitness.

Just as Canadians have embraced the idea of keeping their hearts fit with daily workouts at the gym, brain experts are now urging us to keep our brains active to avoid dementia.

Dr. William Reichman is CEO of Toronto’s Baycrest Centre and a world-renowned expert on geriatric mental health and dementia.

Brain health, he said, is an area of science that’s exploding.

“Having an intact brain and an intact mind is very important to we boomers because we like to be in control,” he said in a recent interview.

“We can accept that with physical frailty, we may ultimately be dependent upon other people to have some of our physical needs met, but we certainly don’t want other people to be making decisions for us if at all possible,” he said.

Reichman estimates about 5% of people over the age of 65 have dementia and said for every five years of age, the percentage doubles.

By the time we reach 80 years of age, 30%-40% of people suffer from dementia.

With the massive tidal wave of aging baby boomers heading into the high-risk age group for dementia, brain health takes on a greater urgency.

“If we can delay onset of disease by five years, then the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease will be reduced by 50%. This is largely a disorder of aging, so people will die of something else,” Reichman points out.

“If we can delay onset by 10 years, then that will essentially eradicate the disease,” he said.

While you can’t vaccinate against Alzheimer’s, you can make lifestyle changes that keep your brain active.

Contrary to the commonly-held belief years ago that brain cells could not regenerate, there is new evidence that adults can increase their brain function.

Via Beating Alzheimer’s with Sudoku

Early Treatment Benefits Autistic Children, Study Shows

Clinicians have increasingly come to believe that the worst effects of autism can be blunted if the condition is identified and treated early enough. Now, the journal Pediatrics has published a study that seems to validate the theory.

The study is the first randomized, controlled trial for comprehensive autism treatment for children as young as 18 months old. While certainly not a cure for the condition, the study did find that intense early treatment yields major improvements in IQ scores, language processing, and in the ability to manage everyday tasks essential for early childhood development and education.

The University of Washington study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. It involved 48 children ages 18 to 30 months, half of whom were randomly assigned to receive the Early Start Denver Model, an intensive autism therapy protocol. The other half were assigned to a control group and received less intensive therapy.

After two years, those who participated in the Denver Model group had average IQ scores 17.6 points higher than the control group, putting them within the range of normal intelligence, while those in the other group gained just seven points, remaining in the zone of intellectual disability.

Via Early Treatment Benefits Autistic Children, Study Shows

Study: Diet Could Slow Alzheimer’s

A diet rich in antioxidants could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or even slow down its evolution, researchers in Spain say.

Study leader Mercedes Unzeta of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and colleagues said their research suggests the neural networks of the adult brain susceptible to being destroyed by age and neural diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease can be strengthened through increasing dietary polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

In the study, a cream rich in both polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids — a patented mixture of dried fruits, nuts and vegetable oils made by La Morella Nuts in Reus near Tarragona — was added to the normal diet of mice.

The study, scheduled to be published in the journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, finds mice eating the cream for 40 days had a significantly higher amount of brain stem cells than the mice not eating the cream.

Eating the cream was also linked to much less oxidative damage when exposed to the hydroxide peroxide, the study said.

Polyphenols can be found in tea, beer, grapes, wine, olive oil, cocoa, nuts and other fruits and vegetables. Polyunsaturated fatty acids can be found in blue fish and vegetables such as corn, soy beans, sunflowers and pumpkins, the researchers said.

Via Study: Diet Could Slow Alzheimer’s

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

Raising Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness with an Apple a Day

Did you know that apples and apple products may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease? Research from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell as well as Cornell suggests that eating and drinking apples and apple juice, in conjunction with a balanced diet, can help protect the brain from the effects of oxidative stress that may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

November is Alzheimer’s awareness month, and there are more than 5 million Americans living with it according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 16 million people have Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to each person with the disease, there is often at least one other person who directly cares for him or her and a host of healthcare and support workers in the background.

It is not known what exactly causes Alzheimer’s disease and at present there is no known cure. But there is hope and help for those people with Alzheimer’s. Research into the disease is offering answers to many questions from how to prevent it, to how to delay the disease’s onset. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and how you can help, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org.

Via Raising Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness with an Apple a Day