Memory3

Healthy Lifestyle Choices Mean Fewer Memory Complaints

May 30, 2013
Science Daily/University of California - Los Angeles
Research has shown that healthy behaviors are associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, but less is known about the potential link between positive lifestyle choices and milder memory complaints, especially those that occur earlier in life and could be the first indicators of later problems.

In particular, the study found that respondents across all age groups who engaged in just one healthy behavior were 21 percent less likely to report memory problems than those who didn't engage in any healthy behaviors. Those with two positive behaviors were 45 percent less likely to report problems, those with three were 75 percent less likely, and those with more than three were 111 percent less likely.

Interestingly, the poll found that healthy behaviors were more common among older adults than the other two age groups. Seventy percent of older adults engaged in at least one healthy behavior, compared with 61 percent of middle-aged individuals and 58 percent of younger respondents.
While 26 percent of older adults and 22 percent of middle-aged respondents reported memory issues, it was surprising to find that 14 percent of the younger group complained about their memory too, the researchers said.

"Memory issues were to be expected in the middle-aged and older groups, but not in younger people," Small said. "A better understanding and recognition of mild memory symptoms earlier in life may have the potential to help all ages."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530170050.htm

Ability to balance on one leg may reflect brain health, stroke risk

December 18, 2014
Science Daily/American Heart Association
Struggling to stand on one leg for less than 20 seconds was linked to an increased risk for stroke, small blood vessel damage in the brain, and reduced cognitive function in otherwise healthy people, a study has shown. One-legged standing time may be a simple test used to measure early signs of abnormalities in the brain associated with cognitive decline, cerebral small vessel disease and stroke.

"Our study found that the ability to balance on one leg is an important test for brain health," said Yasuharu Tabara, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor at the Center for Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto, Japan. "Individuals showing poor balance on one leg should receive increased attention, as this may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline."

Researchers found that the inability to balance on one leg for longer than 20 seconds was associated with cerebral small vessel disease, namely small infarctions without symptoms such as lacunar infarction and microbleeds. They noted that:

•    34.5 percent of those with more than two lacunar infarction lesions had trouble balancing.
•    16 percent of those with one lacunar infarction lesion had trouble balancing.
•    30 percent of those with more than two microbleed lesions had trouble balancing.
•    15.3 percent one microbleed lesion had trouble balancing.
    
Overall, those with cerebral diseases were older, had high blood pressure and had thicker carotid arteries than those who did not have cerebral small vessel disease. However, after adjustment for these covariates, people with more microbleeds and lacunar infarctions in the brain had shorter one-legged standing times. Short one-legged standing times were also independently linked with lower cognitive scores.

Although previous studies have examined the connection between gait and physical abilities and the risk of stroke, this is among the first study to closely examine how long a person can stand on one leg as an indication of their overall brain health.

"One-leg standing time is a simple measure of postural instability and might be a consequence of the presence of brain abnormalities," said Tabara.

Small vessel disease occurs due to microangiopathy of arterioles in the brain, making these arteries less flexible, which can interfere with blood flow. Small vessel disease typically increases with age. Loss of motor coordination, including balance, as well as cognitive impairment has been suggested to represent subclinical brain damage. Tabara and colleagues also found a strong link between struggling to stand on one leg and increased age, with marked shorter one-leg standing time in patients age 60 and over.

Although the study did not assess participants' histories of falling or physical fitness issues, such as how fast they could walk or any gait abnormalities, Tabara said the one-leg standing test is an easy way to determine if there are early signs of being at risk for a stroke and cognitive impairment and whether these patients need additional evaluation.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141218210013.htm

'Brain training' may boost working memory, but not intelligence

October 8, 2013
Science Daily/Association for Psychological Science
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Brain training games, apps, and websites are popular and it's not hard to see why -- who wouldn't want to give their mental abilities a boost? New research suggests that brain training programs might strengthen your ability to hold information in mind, but they won't bring any benefits to the kind of intelligence that helps you reason and solve problems.

The researchers administered a battery of tests before and after training to gauge improvement and transfer of learning, including a variety of WMC measures and three measures of fluid intelligence.

The results were clear: Only students who trained on complex span tasks showed transfer to other WMC tasks. None of the groups showed any training benefit on measures of fluid intelligence.

"For over 100 years, psychologists have argued that general memory ability cannot be improved, that there is little or no generalization of 'trained' tasks to 'untrained' tasks," says Tyler Harrison, graduate student and lead author of the paper. "So we were surprised to see evidence that new and untrained measures of working memory capacity may be improved with training on complex span tasks."

The results suggest that the students improved in their ability to update and maintain information on multiple tasks as they switched between them, which could have important implications for real-world multitasking:

"This work affects nearly everyone living in the complex modern world," says Harrison, "but it particularly affects individuals that find themselves trying to do multiple tasks or rapidly switching between complex tasks, such as driving and talking on a cell phone, alternating between conversations with two different people, or cooking dinner and dealing with a crying child."

Despite the potential boost for multitasking, the benefits of training didn't transfer to fluid intelligence. Engle points out that just because WMC and fluid intelligence are highly correlated doesn't mean that they are the same:

"Height and weight in human beings are also strongly correlated but few reasonable people would assume that height and weight are the same variable," explains Engle. "If they were, gaining weight would make you taller and losing weight would make you shorter -- those of us who gain and lose weight periodically can attest to the fact that that is not true."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008091720.htm

Vitamin E May Delay Decline in Mild-To-Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease

December 31, 2013
Science Daily/Mount Sinai Medical Center
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Difficulty with activities of daily living often affect Alzheimer's patients, which is estimated to affect as many as 5.1 million Americans. These issues are among the most taxing burdens of the disease for caregivers, which total about 5.4 million family members and friends. 

New research from the faculty of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai working with Veterans Administration Medical Centers suggests that alpha tocepherol, fat-soluble Vitamin E and antioxidant, may slow functional decline (problems with daily activities such as shopping, preparing meals, planning, and traveling) in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease and decrease caregiver burden. There was no added benefit for memory and cognitive testing with the vitamin.

"This trial showed that vitamin E delays progression of functional decline by 19% per year, which translates into 6.2 months benefit over placebo.”
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131231163755.htm

Brain Training Works, but Just for the Practiced Task

January 2, 2014
Science Daily/University of Oregon
Search for "brain training" on the Web. You'll find online exercises, games, software, even apps, all designed to prepare your brain to do better on any number of tasks. Do they work? University of Oregon psychologists say, yes, but "there's a catch."

The catch, according to Elliot T. Berkman, a professor in the Department of Psychology and lead author on a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, is that training for a particular task does heighten performance, but that advantage doesn't necessarily carry over to a new challenge.

The training provided in the study caused a proactive shift in inhibitory control. However, it is not clear if the improvement attained extends to other kinds of executive function such as working memory, because the team's sole focus was on inhibitory control, said Berkman, who directs the psychology department's Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab.

"With training, the brain activity became linked to specific cues that predicted when inhibitory control might be needed," he said. "This result is important because it explains how brain training improves performance on a given task -- and also why the performance boost doesn't generalize beyond that task."

"Researchers at the University of Oregon are using tools and technologies to shed new light on important mechanisms of cognitive functioning such as executive control," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the UO Graduate School. "This revealing study on brain training by Dr. Berkman and his team furthers our understanding of inhibitory control and may lead to the design of better prevention tools to promote mental health."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140102112324.htm

Several Forms of Vitamin E Protect Against Memory Disorders

January 7, 2014
Science Daily/University of Eastern Finland
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Elderly people with high serum vitamin E levels are less likely to suffer from memory disorders than their peers with lower levels, according to a study published recently in Experimental Gerontology. According to the researchers, various forms of vitamin E seem to play a role in memory processes. The study was carried out in cooperation between the University of Eastern Finland, the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, Karolinska Institutet, and the University of Perugia.

Studies investigating the link between vitamin E and memory disorders have usually focused on a single form of vitamin E, namely α-tocopherol, which is also used in vitamin E supplements. However, vitamin E exists in eight different natural forms, tocopherols and tocotrienols, all of which have antioxidant properties.

This recently published study comprises a sample of 140 over 65-year-old Finnish persons with no memory impairment at the onset of the study. During the eight-year follow-up, it was discovered that higher total serum levels of vitamin E, and higher levels of γ-tocopherol, β-tocotrienol and total tocotrienols in particular, seemed to protect against memory disorders. According to the researchers, the results show that the entire vitamin E family plays a role in memory processes. Accordingly, measuring the levels of vitamin E from serum is the most reliable way to determine whether they are sufficiently high
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107102640.htm

All Coming Back to Me Now: Researchers Find Caffeine Enhances Memory

January 12, 2014
Science Daily/Johns Hopkins
Caffeine is the energy boost of choice for millions. Now, however, researchers have found another use for the stimulant: memory enhancer

http://images.sciencedaily.com/2014/01/140112190725-large.jpg

For some, it's the tradition of steeping tealeaves to brew the perfect cup of tea. For others, it's the morning shuffle to a coffee maker for a hot jolt of java. Then there are those who like their wake up with the kind of snap and a fizz usually found in a carbonated beverage.

Michael Yassa, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins, and his team of scientists found that caffeine has a positive effect on long-term memory in humans. Their research, published by the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows that caffeine enhances certain memories at least up to 24 hours after it is consumed.

"We've always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans," said Yassa, senior author of the paper. "We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours."

"Almost all prior studies administered caffeine before the study session, so if there is an enhancement, it's not clear if it's due to caffeine's effects on attention, vigilance, focus or other factors. By administering caffeine after the experiment, we rule out all of these effects and make sure that if there is an enhancement, it's due to memory and nothing else," said Yassa.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 90 percent of people worldwide consume caffeine in one form or another. In the United States, 80 percent of adults consume caffeine every day. The average adult has an intake of about 200 milligrams -- the same amount used in the Yassa study -- or roughly one strong cup of coffee or two small cups of coffee per day.

"The next step for us is to figure out the brain mechanisms underlying this enhancement," he said. "We can use brain-imaging techniques to address these questions. We also know that caffeine is associated with healthy longevity and may have some protective effects from cognitive decline like Alzheimer's disease. These are certainly important questions for the future."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140112190725.htm

Heavy drinking in middle age may speed memory loss by up to six years in men

January 15, 2014
Science Daily/American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
Middle-aged men who drink more than 36 grams of alcohol, or two and a half US drinks per day, may speed their memory loss by up to six years later on, according to a study published. On the other hand, the study found no differences in memory and executive function in men who do not drink, former drinkers and light or moderate drinkers. Executive function deals with attention and reasoning skills in achieving a goal.

“Much of the research evidence about drinking and a relationship to memory and executive function is based on older populations,” said study author Séverine Sabia, PhD, of the University College London in the United Kingdom. “Our study focused on middle-aged participants and suggests that heavy drinking is associated with faster decline in all areas of cognitive function in men.”

The study involved 5,054 men and 2,099 women whose drinking habits were assessed three times over 10 years. A drink was considered wine, beer or liquor. Then, when the participants were an average age of 56, they took their first memory and executive function test. The tests were repeated twice over the next 10 years.

The study found that there were no differences in memory and executive function decline between men who did not drink and those who were light or moderate drinkers—those who drank less than 20 grams, or less than two US drinks per day.

Heavy drinkers showed memory and executive function declines between one-and-a-half to six years faster than those who had fewer drinks per day.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115172248.htm

Your memory is no video camera: It edits the past with present experiences

February 4, 2014
Science Daily/Northwestern University
Your memory is a wily time traveler, plucking fragments of the present and inserting them into the past, reports a new study. In terms of accuracy, it's no video camera. Rather, memory rewrites the past with current information, updating your recollections with new experiences to aid survival. Love at first sight, for example, is more likely a trick of your memory than a Hollywood-worthy moment.

http://images.sciencedaily.com/2014/02/140204185651-large.jpg

Rather, the memory rewrites the past with current information, updating your recollections with new experiences. "When you think back to when you met your current partner, you may recall this feeling of love and euphoria," said lead author Donna Jo Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow in medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "But you may be projecting your current feelings back to the original encounter with this person."

The study will be published Feb. 5 in the Journal of Neuroscience.
This the first study to show specifically how memory is faulty, and how it can insert things from the present into memories of the past when those memories are retrieved. The study shows the exact point in time when that incorrectly recalled information gets implanted into an existing memory.

To help us survive, Bridge said, our memories adapt to an ever-changing environment and help us deal with what's important now. "Our memory is not like a video camera," Bridge said. "Your memory reframes and edits events to create a story to fit your current world. It's built to be current."

All that editing happens in the hippocampus, the new study found. The hippocampus, in this function, is the memory's equivalent of a film editor and special effects team.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140204185651.htm

Why does the brain remember dreams?

February 17, 2014
Science Daily/INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale)
The reason for dreaming is still a mystery for the researchers who study the difference between "high dream recallers," who recall dreams regularly, and "low dream recallers," who recall dreams rarely. 

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In January 2013 (work published in the journal Cerebral Cortex), the team led by Perrine Ruby, Inserm researcher at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, made the following two observations: "high dream recallers" have twice as many time of wakefulness during sleep as "low dream recallers" and their brains are more reactive to auditory stimuli during sleep and wakefulness. This increased brain reactivity may promote awakenings during the night, and may thus facilitate memorization of dreams during brief periods of wakefulness.

High dream recallers, both while awake and while asleep, showed stronger spontaneous brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and in the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), an area of the brain involved in attention orienting toward external stimuli.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140217085915.htm

Our memory for sounds is significantly worse than for visual or tactile things

February 26, 2014
Science Daily/University of Iowa
Remember that sound bite you heard on the radio this morning? The grocery items your spouse asked you to pick up? Chances are, you won't. Researchers have found that when it comes to memory, we don't remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see or touch.

http://images.sciencedaily.com/2014/02/140226174439-large.jpg

Both experiments suggest that the way your mind processes and stores sound may be different from the way it process and stores other types of memories. And that could have big implications for educators, design engineers and advertisers alike.

"As teachers, we want to assume students will remember everything we say. But if you really want something to be memorable you may need to include a visual or hands-on experience, in addition to auditory information," says Poremba.
Previous research has suggested that humans may have superior visual memory, and that hearing words associated with sounds -- rather than hearing the sounds alone -- may aid memory. Bigelow and Poremba's study builds upon those findings by confirming that, indeed, we remember less of what we hear, regardless of whether sounds are linked to words.

The study also is the first to show that our ability to remember what we touch is roughly equal to our ability to remember what we see. The finding is important, because experiments with non-human primates such as monkeys and chimpanzees have shown that they similarly excel at visual and tactile memory tasks, but struggle with auditory tasks. Based on these observations, the authors believe humans' weakness for remembering sounds likely has its roots in the evolution of the primate brain.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140226174439.htm

New evidence confirms link between IQ, brain cortex

March 4, 2014
Science Daily/McGill University
Rate of change in the thickness of the brain's cortex is an important factor associated with a person's change in IQ, according to a collaborative study by scientists in five countries. The cortex is the thin, outermost layer of nerve cell tissue of the brain, typically measuring a few millimeters in thickness. The cortex contains nerve cell bodies and is critical for cognitive functions such as perception, language, memory and consciousness. The cortex begins to thin after the age of five or six as part of the normal aging process. This study is the first to show the association between cortical thickness and development in full scale IQ, and has potentially wide-ranging implications for the pedagogical world and for judicial cases in which the defendant's IQ score could play a role in determining the severity of the sentence.

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Finding that IQ is not fixed and correlates to changes in brain anatomy has important implications as it shows that some of the changes in IQ are real and not merely due to measurement error. This finding should make people wary of sticking to an early IQ assessment given the role it plays in school entrance criteria, detection of the gifted, as well as in eligibility for social security disability income or even the death penalty. In some US states, people with an IQ below 70 are not eligible for the death penalty."

The reasons behind the changes in IQ are not clear at this point. Some of these may be due to programmed developmental trajectories or other factors such as nutrition and education, noted Professor Karama.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304141734.htm

Green tea extract boosts your brain power, especially the working memory

April 7, 2014
Science Daily/University of Basel
Green tea is said to have many putative positive effects on health. Now, researchers are reporting first evidence that green tea extract enhances the cognitive functions, in particular the working memory. The findings suggest promising clinical implications for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia.

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In the past the main ingredients of green tea have been thoroughly studied in cancer research. Recently, scientists have also been inquiring into the beverage's positive impact on the human brain. Different studies were able to link green tea to beneficial effects on the cognitive performance. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this cognitive enhancing effect of green tea remained unknown.
 

Better memory

 

In a new study, the researcher teams of Prof. Christoph Beglinger from the University Hospital of Basel and Prof. Stefan Borgwardt from the Psychiatric University Clinics found that green tea extract increases the brain's effective connectivity, meaning the causal influence that one brain area exerts over another. This effect on connectivity also led to improvement in actual cognitive performance: Subjects tested significantly better for working memory tasks after the admission of green tea extract.

For the study healthy male volunteers received a soft drink containing several grams of green tea extract before they solved working memory tasks. The scientists then analyzed how this affected the brain activity of the men using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI showed increased connectivity between the parietal and the frontal cortex of the brain. These neuronal findings correlated positively with improvement in task performance of the participants. "Our findings suggest that green tea might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain," says Borgwardt.
Clinical implications

The research results suggest promising clinical implications: Modeling effective connectivity among frontal and parietal brain regions during working memory processing might help to assess the efficacy of green tea for the treatment of cognitive impairments in neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia.

Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140407101545.htm

Poor sleep quality linked to cognitive decline in older men

March 31, 2014
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
A link between poor sleep quality and the development of cognitive decline over three to four years was found in a new study of older men. 

Results show that higher levels of fragmented sleep and lower sleep efficiency were associated with a 40 to 50 percent increase in the odds of clinically significant decline in executive function, which was similar in magnitude to the effect of a five-year increase in age. In contrast, sleep duration was not related to subsequent cognitive decline.

"This study provides an important reminder that healthy sleep involves both the quantity and quality of sleep," said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr. "As one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle, sleep is essential for optimal cognitive functioning."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331170557.htm

Dementia patients benefit from holistic exercise program, study shows

May 19, 2014
Science Daily/Elsevier
While dementia patients can often suffer from depression and declining physical and mental ability, exercise has been shown to help improve both their physical and psychological wellbeing. Researchers investigated how combining cognitive activities and elements of yoga, tai chi, qigong and meditation with routine physical exercise affected dementia patients. They found that a holistic exercise program focusing on both mind and body can help improve quality of life for dementia patients.

"When the wellness approach is applied to exercise, holistic exercise strives to encourage individuals not only to take part in the physical activities, but also to become aware of their own physical and psychological states, and to perform exercise that is purposeful and meaningful to them," explained lead investigator Yvonne J-Lyn Khoo, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, of the Health and Social Care Institute, Teesside University.

The holistic mind-and-body approach proved to be both enjoyable and helpful for patients suffering from dementia. Not only did they like the sessions, but also showed improvement in memory recall in their anticipation of the physical movements associated with the music.

"Observations at the sixth session showed that even though people with dementia could not remember what had occurred during previous sessions, six people with dementia who participated in the holistic exercise sessions could anticipate the physical movements associated with specific music and three people with dementia were able to remember the sequence of the physical movements," said Dr. Khoo. "This showed potential in maintained procedural memory among people with dementia who attended the holistic exercise sessions."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519142604.htm

Alpha waves organize to-do list for brain

May 20, 2014
Science Daily/Radboud University Nijmegen
Alpha waves appear to be even more active and important than neuroscientists already thought. A new theory has been postulated on how the alpha wave controls attention to visual signals. Brain cells 'spark' all the time. From this electronic activity brain waves emerge: oscillations at different band widths. And like a radio station uses different frequencies to carry specific information far away from the emitting source, so does the brain. And just like radio listeners, brain areas tune into the wave length relevant for their functioning.

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Our brain cells 'spark' all the time. From this electronic activity brain waves emerge: oscillations at different band widths. And like a radio station uses different frequencies to carry specific information far away from the emitting source, so does the brain. And just like radio listeners with a certain musical preference tune in to the frequency that carries the music they prefer, brain areas tune into the wave length relevant for their functioning.

Alpha waves aren't boring Ole Jensen, professor of Neuronal Oscillations at Radboud University's Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, tries to figure out how this network of sending and receiving information through oscillations works in detail. Earlier he discovered a novel role of the alpha wave that was long thought to be a boring wave, emerging when the brain runs idle and a person is dozing off. Jensen shifted this interpretation by showing the importance of the alpha frequency: it helps to shut down irrelevant brain area's for a certain task. It helps us concentrate on what is really important at that moment.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520093500.htm

How high blood pressure in middle age may affect memory in old age

June 4, 2014
Science Daily/American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
High blood pressure in middle age plays a critical role in whether blood pressure in old age may affect memory and thinking, research shows. The study found that the association of blood pressure in old age to brain measures depended on a history of blood pressure in middle age. Higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure were associated with increased risk of brain lesions and tiny brain bleeds. This was most noticeable in people without a history of high blood pressure in middle age.

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The study found that the association of blood pressure in old age to brain measures depended on a history of blood pressure in middle age. Higher systolic (the top number on the measure of blood pressure) and diastolic (the bottom number on the measure of blood pressure) blood pressure were associated with increased risk of brain lesions and tiny brain bleeds. This was most noticeable in people without a history of high blood pressure in middle age. For example, people with no history of high blood pressure in middle age who had high diastolic blood pressure in old age were 50 percent more likely to have severe brain lesions than people with low diastolic blood pressure in old age.

However, in people with a history of high blood pressure in middle age, lower diastolic blood pressure in older age was associated with smaller total brain and gray matter volumes. This finding was reflected in memory and thinking performance measures as well. In people with high blood pressure in middle age, lower diastolic blood pressure was associated with 10 percent lower memory scores.

"Older people without a history of high blood pressure but who currently have high blood pressure are at an increased risk for brain lesions, suggesting that lowering of blood pressure in these participants might be beneficial. On the other hand, older people with a history of high blood pressure but who currently have lower blood pressure might have more extensive organ damage and are at risk of brain shrinkage and memory and thinking problems," said Launer.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140604202104.htm

Light treatment improves sleep, depression, agitation in Alzheimer's

June 4, 2014
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Light treatment tailored to increase circadian stimulation during the day may improve sleep, depression and agitation in people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia, research suggests. 

Results show that exposure to the tailored light treatment during daytime hours for four weeks significantly increased sleep quality, efficiency and total sleep duration. It also significantly reduced scores for depression and agitation.

"It is a simple, inexpensive, non-pharmacological treatment to improve sleep and behavior in Alzheimer's disease and dementia patients," said principal investigator Mariana Figueiro, PhD, associate professor and Light and Health program director of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. "The improvements we saw in agitation and depression were very impressive."

The pilot study involved 14 nursing home patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. A light source producing low levels of 300 to 400 lux of a bluish-white light with a color temperature of more than 9000 K was installed in the residents' rooms. Light exposure occurred during daytime hours for a period of four weeks. Light-dark and activity-rest patterns were collected using a calibrated instrument prior to and after the lighting intervention. Measures of sleep quality, depression and agitation also were collected using standardized questionnaires.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140604094110.htm

Listening to lessons while sleeping reinforces memory

June 30, 2014
Science Daily/Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
When you have learned words in another language, it may be worth listening to them again in your sleep. A study has now shown that this method reinforces memory. "Our method is easy to use in daily life and can be adopted by anyone," says the study director.

Schreiner and Rasch believe that their results provide further evidence that sleep helps memory, probably because the sleeping brain spontaneously activates previously learned subject matter. Playing this subject matter back during sleep can reinforce this activation process and thus improve recall. For example, a person who plays a memory card game to the scent of roses, and is then re-exposed to the same scent while asleep, is subsequently better at remembering where a particular card is in the stack, as Rasch was able to show in another study a few years ago.

Schreiner and Rasch have now observed the beneficial effect of sleep on learning foreign words. A certain amount of swotting is still needed, though. "You can only successfully activate words that you have learned before you go to sleep. Playing back words you don't know while you're asleep has no effect," says Schreiner.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140630093629.htm

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence impairs memory

July 29, 2014
Science Daily/Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
Daily consumption of beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose can impair the ability to learn and remember information, particularly when consumption occurs during adolescence, a study done in rats suggests.

Both adult and adolescent rats were given daily access to sugar-sweetened beverages that mirror sugar concentrations found in common soft drinks. Adult rats that consumed the sugar-sweetened beverages for one month performed normally in tests of cognitive function; however, when consumption occurred during adolescence the rats were impaired in tests of learning and memory capability.

The lead author, Dr. Scott Kanoski from the University of Southern California, says, "It's no secret that refined carbohydrates, particularly when consumed in soft drinks and other beverages, can lead to metabolic disturbances. However, our findings reveal that consuming sugar-sweetened drinks is also interfering with our brain's ability to function normally and remember critical information about our environment, at least when consumed in excess before adulthood."

In addition to causing memory impairment, adolescent sugar-sweetened beverage consumption also produced inflammation in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that controls many learning and memory functions.

"The hippocampus is such a critical brain region for memory function," says Kanoski. "In many ways this region is a canary in the coal mine, as it is particularly sensitive to insult by various environmental factors, including eating foods that are high in saturated fat and processed sugar."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140729224906.htm

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