Brain cell transplant restored memory and learning in mice with Alzheimer's

When it comes to making gains in the fight against Alzheimer's, it doesn't take much to get me excited. Once you see what the disease does to someone you love, any hope for a cure (or to slow down symptoms) is great. In a new study from the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and the University of California-San Francisco, scientists were able to reverse learning and memory deficits in mice with Alzheimer's. ...more

How well do you know your brain?

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/24/health/improve-memory-brain/I ran across this article on how to get your brain in shape and thought I'd post some of the highlights, many of which are just interesting facts:1. There are 86 billion active neurons in your brain2. Your brain uses 20% of your energy3. Gray matter (which carries out thinking) uses most of this energy4. White matter (which relays signals and coordinates the brain regions) is pretty energy-efficient5. Neurons rewire themselves based on your genes and experiences...more

The Ethics of Ending Alzheimer's: Gene linked to adult growth of brain cells, memory and learning

Sometimes, with good news comes questionable ethics, and new research from the City of Hope presents such an issue.The researchers discovered that stimulating a specific gene (a nuclear receptor called TLX) could grow new neurons in adults, resulting in faster, smarter learners that retained info better and longer.Obviously, there's some great news here - especially in the way of developing new treatments for things like Alzheimer's, dementia and Parkinson's. But the sci fi element brings up ethical issues about playing God and building superhumans. ...more

Cynical people more likely to develop dementia

Do you constantly consider the glass half empty? Are you generally distrustful of people? Do you always wonder what someone's motivation is for being nice? You may be at an increased risk for developing dementia.Yes, cynical people now have yet another reason to think the glass is half empty. New research out of the University of Eastern Finland found that compared to their more positive counterparts, people with high levels of cynical distrust are THREE TIMES more likely to develop dementia....more

Driving with dementia; Should you take away a loved one's keys?

When my grandfather started developing Alzheimer's, we knew when it was time to take away the keys. He hit a parked car as he was driving by, taking off the side mirror.For other people, it's not so obvious. And as you can probably guess, trying to take away someone's ability to drive is often taken as a form of repression; you're taking away their freedom in their eyes. Although few seniors probably feel they're perfect drivers (and many will willingly give up driving at night or in busy areas they don't know well), many still want the OPTION....more

New test seems to help distinguish between Alzheimer's and normal age-related memory decline

If you've ever wondered if the memory loss you're experiencing is early Alzheimer's or just typical age-related cognitive decline, take note: A new simple cognitive test seems to be able to distinguish between the two.Researchers at the University of Illinois designed a test based on relational memory. That's the "ability to bind together various items." One particular example that stands out for testing those with Alzheimer's is connecting a person's name to their face....more
redheadedjen Jen, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. I constantly think about my grandfather, ...more

Young blood reverses age-related cognitive decline

Maybe vampires are on to something! I heard about this on NPR this weekend. Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine put the plasma (blood stripped of cells)from young mice into older mice and found that their brain function improved! The older mice began performing better in spatial memory tests (compared to older mice who received no plasma or older mice who received plasma from other older mice).A study from 2011 found just the opposite is true when you put blood from old mice into young mice; the young mice have decreased brain function....more

KLOTHO gene variant may be a game-changer for Alzheimer's

I'd never heard of "KLOTHO" until I read this article. It's a gene with a variant so strong that it may negate the notorious E4 variant of the APOE gene, which is a major factor in contributing to Alzheimer's.The variant also seems to have major cognitive benefits for the young brain, improving learning and memory in those with higher levels of KLOTHO.In a recent study, researchers looked at the results of 700 people who participated in aging studies. They found that those with variants of the KLOTHO gene scored better on cognitive tests....more

Dementia is Hard ... Especially Now

I invited my friend Joy DeKok to share her experiences with us and to speak about her mom who suffers from Dementia ... in honour of both caregivers and those affected by this terrible disease - especially on Mother's Day....more

Fade to Black: Death After Dementia

  It seems very wrong to write a eulogy for someone who is still alive. That's what I've been doing today. But instead of putting my scattered ideas onto paper, I'm writing this. It's one thing to eulogize in your head and another thing entirely to commit those thoughts to sentences and paragraphs....more