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November 7, 2007, 5:14 AM CT

A maternal link to Alzheimer's disease

A maternal link to Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer -tangles
New York, Nov. 6, 2007 People who have a mother with Alzheimers disease appear to be at higher risk for getting the disease than those individuals whose fathers are afflicted, as per a new study by NYU School of Medicine researchers.

The study is published in this weeks online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is the first to compare brain metabolism among cognitively normal people who have a father, a mother, or no relatives with Alzheimers disease, and to show that only individuals with an affected mother have reduced brain metabolism in the same brain regions as Alzheimers patients.

Over the last two decades many studies have shown that people with the disease have significant reductions in brain energy metabolism in certain regions of the brain. In some recent research studies these reductions are evident in healthy people years before symptoms of dementia emerge.

The scientists wanted to evaluate people with a family history of Alzheimers because that is one of the biggest risk factors for the disease. Alzheimers affects more than 5 million Americans and is the most common form of senile dementia. People with an affected parent have a 4- to 10-fold higher risk in comparison to individuals with no family history. It isnt known why people with a family history are more susceptible to the disease.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 7, 2007, 5:01 AM CT

Grape, wine and Alzheimer's disease

Grape, wine and Alzheimer's disease
With National Alzheimers Awareness Month upon us, attention continues to focus on new approaches to cognitive health in an aging population. Now, research with grape polyphenols presented today at Neuroscience 2007 in San Diego shows promise for maintaining long-term cognitive health. The scientists will now focus on grape polyphenols and Alzheimers disease (AD) at the newly established Center for Research in Alternative and Complementary Medicine in Alzheimers disease research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM).

Two recent population studies associated moderate red wine and 100 percent fruit juice consumption with lowering the risk of AD dementia (wine) or delay in AD onset (juice). Adding further weight to those studies is the research presented by Dr. Lap Ho at Neuroscience 2007, which demonstrated the potentially protective effect of Concord grape juice and Cabernet Sauvignon polyphenols to slow beta-amyloid neuropathology.

A characteristic hallmark of Alzheimers disease-type neuropathology is the accumulation of beta-amyloid peptides and their formation into plaques in the brain. Dr. Ho at MSSM observed that polyphenol extracts from Cabernet Sauvignon and Concord grape juice reduced the generation and accumulation of beta-amyloid peptides in experimental models of Alzheimers disease.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 6, 2007, 10:29 PM CT

Research Links Diet to Cognitive Decline and Dementia

Research Links Diet to Cognitive Decline and Dementia
Research has shown convincing evidence that dietary patterns practiced during adulthood are important contributors to age-related cognitive decline and dementia risk. An article published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences highlights information on the benefits of diets high in fruit, vegetables, cereals and fish and low in saturated fats in reducing dementia risk.

Adults with diabetes are particularly sensitive to the foods they eat with respect to cognitive function. Specifically, an adult with diabetes will experience a decline in memory function after a meal, particularly if simple carbohydrate foods are consumed. While the precise physiological mechanisms underlying these dietary influences are not completely understood, the modulation of brain insulin levels likely contributes.

This deficit can be prevented through healthful food choices at meals. The findings suggest that weight maintenance reduces the risk of developing obesity-associated disorders, such as hypertension and high cholesterol, and is an important component of preserving cognitive health.

The work shows another benefit of maintaining healthful eating practices with aging - the same ones proposed by most diabetes and heart & stroke foundations. "This type of information should be able to empower the individual, knowing that he/she can be actively engaged in activities and lifestyles that should support cognitive health with aging," says Carol Greenwood, author of the study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 6, 2007, 10:24 PM CT

Blood pressure drug curbs brain damage from PTSD

Blood pressure drug curbs brain damage from PTSD
A drug used to treat hypertension and enlargement of the prostate may protect the brain from damage caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease, depression and schizophrenia.

Prazosin, also prescribed as an antipsychotic medication, appears to block the increase of steroid hormones known as glucocorticoids, Oregon Health & Science University and Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center scientists have found. Elevated levels of glucocorticoids are linked to atrophy in nerve branches where impulses are transmitted, and even nerve cell death, in the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is the elongated ridge located in the cerebral cortex of the brain where emotions and memory are processed.

"It's known, from human studies, that corticosteroids are not good for you cognitively," said co-author of study S. Paul Berger, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, OHSU School of Medicine and the PVAMC. "We think prazosin protects the brain from being damaged by excessive levels of corticosteroid stress hormones".

The study, titled "Prazosin attenuates dexamethasone-induced HSP70 expression in the cortex," is being presented during a poster session today at Neuroscience 2007, the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 5, 2007, 8:23 PM CT

Children with gene show reduced cognitive function

Children with gene show reduced cognitive function
Children who possess a gene known to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease already show signs of reduced cognitive function, an Oregon Health & Science University study has observed.

Researchers in the OHSU School of Medicine discovered that 7- to 10-year-olds with a member of a family of genes implicated in development, nerve cell regeneration and neuroprotection display reduced spatial learning and memory, linked to later-life cognitive impairments.

Results of the study, presented today at Neuroscience 2007, the 37th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, suggest that changes predisposing a person to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia might occur much sooner in the brain than previously thought.

"One of our questions has been is this a risk that only happens with age, or is it already - early on - the cause of differences in performance," said co-author of study Jacob Raber, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral neuroscience and neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine. "This study suggests there already are cognitive differences very early on in life."

The results also mean therapeutic interventions that delay the effects of cognitive decline may be possible at a much younger age, Raber says.

Prior studies have shown that a member of the apolipoprotein E gene family, apoE4, increases a person's risk of age-related cognitive decline and cognitive injury from such "environmental" challenges as brain trauma. Mice expressing human apoE4 developed progressive, age-dependent impairments in spatial learning and memory.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 4, 2007, 9:18 PM CT

The need for speed in stroke treatment

The need for speed in stroke treatment
Every 45 seconds, an American suffers a stroke. Every minute one of those individuals goes without therapy, more brain cells die. And every hour that passes before victims get to the hospital, the less likely they are to be eligible for the most effective therapy.

But despite all this, 69 percent of stroke victims don¡¯t reach the hospital in the first three hours after their stroke symptoms begin, as per a new study led by the University of Michigan Stroke Program and reported in the journal Stroke.

That delay keeps a number of patients from receiving tPA, the only approved therapy for stroke caused by blood clots in the brain. If it¡¯s given intravenously within the first three hours of the start of a stroke, or injected directly into the brain within six hours, tPA can break up clots and stop or slow the damage caused by strokes.

But in the new study, only 44 percent of patients experiencing full-blown clot-based strokes got to the hospital even within six hours of the start of their symptoms ¨C and 36 percent didn¡¯t get there until more than 12 hours had passed. The study was conducted between 2000 and 2005 in Corpus Christi, Texas ¨C an area with no major university hospitals, making it a ¡ degree real world¡± snapshot of stroke care in America.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 31, 2007, 8:46 PM CT

Ears ringing?

Ears ringing?
Brain researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered how cells in the developing ear make their own noise, long before the ear is able to detect sound around them. The finding, reported in this weeks Nature, helps to explain how the developing auditory system generates brain activity in the absence of sound. It also may explain why people sometimes experience tinnitus and hear sounds that seem to come from nowhere.

The research team made their discovery while studying the properties of non-nerve cells in the ears of young rats. These so-called support cells were believed to be silent bystanders not directly involved in nerve communication. However, to the scientists surprise, these cells showed robust electrical activity, similar to nerve cells. Further, this activity occurred spontaneously, without sound or any external stimulus.

Its long been thought that nerve cells that connect auditory organs to the brain need to experience sound or other nerve activity to find their way to the part of the brain responsible for processing sound, says the studys lead author, Dwight Bergles, Ph.D., an associate professor of neuroscience at Hopkins. So when we saw that these supporting cells could generate their own electrical activity, we suspected they might somehow be involved in triggering the activity mandatory for proper nerve wiring.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 30, 2007, 10:09 PM CT

Brain marker for predicting Alzheimer's disease

Brain marker  for predicting Alzheimer's disease
Duke University Medical Center scientists have used imaging technology to identify a new marker that may help identify those at greatest risk for cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer's disease.

The study focused on people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that affects an estimated four to five million individuals in the United States. People with MCI are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease in the future and approximately 30-50 percent of MCI subjects will develop Alzheimer's if followed over a three- to five-year period.

Duke scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging, also known as fMRI, on people with MCI to track regions of the brain that become active or inactive when participating in tasks that involve memory. They then followed these individuals over time to document progression to Alzheimer's.

"A single baseline fMRI measure of deactivation could help predict which individuals will convert to Alzheimer's over the next several years," said the study's lead author, Jeffrey R. Petrella, M.D. "Conversely, the fMRI scans of MCI subjects who did not convert looked more like those of healthy normal people, and could therefore be reassuring," said Petrella, who is director of the Alzheimer's Imaging Research Laboratory and associate professor of radiology at Duke.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 30, 2007, 10:06 PM CT

Chemical that Triggers Parkinson's Disease

Chemical that Triggers Parkinson's Disease
Scientists at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine have discovered the key brain chemical that causes Parkinson's disease - a breakthrough finding that could pave the way for new, far more effective therapies to treat one of the most common and debilitating neurological disorders.

Currently, the main approach for treating Parkinson's disease, which afflicts more than 1.5 million Americans, is to replace dopamine that's lost when the cells that produce it die off and cause the disorder. With this new research, however, researchers can better work toward 'neuroprotective' therapies - those that actually block dopamine cells from dying off in the first place.

"We believe this work represents a very significant breakthrough in understanding the complicated chemical process that results in Parkinson's disease," said William J. Burke, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and the study's lead author.

"For the first time, we've identified the chemical that triggers the events in the brain that cause this disorder," Burke added. "We believe these findings can be used to develop therapies that can actually stop or slow this process".

The scientists' findings appear in an early online edition of the journal Acta Neuropathologica.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 29, 2007, 9:48 PM CT

What's the brain got to do with education?

What's the brain got to do with education?
Quite a lot - as per teachers in a recent survey commissioned by The Innovation Unit and carried out by scientists at the University of Bristol. Eventhough current teacher training programmes generally omit the science of how we learn, an overwhelming number of the teachers surveyed felt neuroscience could make an important contribution in key educational areas. The research was undertaken to inform a series of seminars between educationalists and neuroresearchers organised by the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Dr Sue Pickering and Dr Paul Howard-Jones, at Bristol University's Graduate School of Education, asked teachers and other education professionals whether they thought it was important to consider the workings of the brain in educational practice. Around 87 per cent of respondents felt it was. Teachers considered both mainstream and special educational teaching could benefit from the neuroscientific insights emerging from modern scanning techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The scientists also investigated where teachers got their knowledge about neuroscience from and what impact, if any, it was having on their classroom practice. Some teachers already use so-called 'brain-based''teaching methods in their classrooms. These include initiatives such as Brain Gym and methods intended to appeal to different brain-based learning styles (e.g. visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning - or VAK). Eventhough the scientific basis of these methods is highly contentious, a number of teachers said they had found them very useful, especially when children were less receptive to more traditional teaching methods. One respondent said such approaches "improved the success of the teaching and learning" and led to "happier children who are more engaged in the activities".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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