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We’ve found some simply delicious research reports. Chocolate Lovers- Take Heart! Denmark has created a large health study, with over 55,000 participants who have been tracked for over 13 years. Originally designed to identify cancer risk factors, it captured sufficiently rich and detailed information that it can be used to assess heart health benefits as well. Research teams from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, and Aalborg University Hospital in Aalborg Denmark teamed up. Kim Overvad, PhD in Epidemiology at Aalborg University Hospital took the lead; Murray A. Mittleman, MD of Beth Israel and Elizabeth Mostofsky, ScD and a post-doc at Beth Israel also worked on it. The researchers were trying to determine if consumption of chocolate reduced the risk of atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is commonly called “afib” here in the U.S. It’s likely you’ve seen advertisements for medications to treat it. Afib is associated with a higher risk of stroke, dementia, heart failure, …
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Cool News On Exercise and Brain Health

We’ve pounded the drum on exercise being the best single thing one can do for brain health. There is much cool new news for both adults and kids on this topic. But first let’s recap: ·The landmark study on exercise and brain health was done in 2002 by Professor of Neurology at University of California-Irvine Carl Cotman, PhD and Nicole Berchtold, PhD, also of UCI. They found that exercise directly improves brain function. Previously, the assumption was that the benefit was indirect through improved heart function causing better blood circulation in the brain. Research here. ·Dr. Yorgi Mavros of the University of Sydney and Dr. Nicola Gates of the University of New South Wales research showed that Progressive Resistance Training (PRT) improved brain function and cognition. Research here. ·Mount Sinai School of Medicine Post-Doctoral Fellows Dominik Moser and Gaille Doucet performed research that concluded that a higher level of physical endurance is associated with better working memory.…

Just How Fast Can This Brain Go?

We’ve noticed a recurring theme in recent brain health scientific studies called “speed of processing”. Adults with faster information processing capability seem less susceptible to various forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.  We’ve previously discussed some of these studies; most were focused on selected groups of individuals such as older adults. Further, those studies typically concentrated on brain parts known to play a critical role in memory formation and fast response, usually the fornix and the hippocampus, parts of the limbic system.

Does White Matter Matter? Researchers at Tohoku University in Sendai Japan have taken a different approach with their analysis. They performed a large study of healthy young adults to understand if the overall amount of white matter in the brain was associated with faster processing speed. White matter is bundles of axons which connect various gray matter areas to each other and to the spinal cord. In our “Vegetables and Video Games” …

Vegetables & Video Games

In our last post, we discussed the research about the cognition benefit from playing Super Mario. New research qualifies the kind of games that might help. Not all will.

Kind of Good News About Video Games A large study (2,800+ participants) performed by researchers from Indiana University, South Florida University of South Florida and Penn State University tracked individuals over 10 years. Participant groups received memory, reasoning, or speed of processing training, or were part of a control group. If you’ve had a vision study at your ophthalmologist, you’ve done something like the speed of processing video game used in the study. To play, you must spot something, such as a highway sign on a roadway, and then spot something else in the periphery. The faster you identify and click on the objects, the better you score. As the game proceeds, the background becomes more complex making it harder to find the images. The good news: participants playing that type of game had a 29% lower i…

Play Super Mario; Build a Big Brain

This brain builder is so good that we are quoting the title as published in a prestigious scientific journal: “Playing Super Mario 64 increases hippocampal grey matter in older adults.” It seems that some researchers from Montreal and St. John’s Newfoundland have nothing better to do than play video games. Well, not exactly. Gregory L. West, PhD and Benjamin Rich Zendel PhD, put together a research team to see if the brains of older adults would benefit from playing video games and, if so, exactly how.

The team from the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland and from the Centre de Researche en Neurologie et Cognition at the University of Montreal, recruited 33 adults from ages 55 to 75. They used the standard test method with a control group and subject groups. The control group continued their normal activities. A second group took self-directed piano lessons (as we’ve covered before, research shows notable brain growth from learning to play a musical instrument)…

Do These Two Things: Have a Bigger Better Brain

Get Married; Have a Better Brain Married couples have a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease than single individuals. We didn’t see that finding coming.  A research paper in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry reported that singles had a 42% higher risk of dementia than couples. Widowed had an average of 20% higher. Curiously, divorced individuals had the same risk as married. Andrew Sommerlad, MD of the University of London, along with fellow researchers Joshua Ruegger and Archana Singh-Manoux MD, speculate that the benefit comes from social contact, communication, looking-out for each other and more mental activity. (We’ve written before on the extreme detriment of loneliness on health in general and brain health in particular). We’re speculating that the punch line is to get married if you’re not….
Build Up Endurance; Build Better Working Memory We were recently explaining to someone that one of the reasons that biological medicines are so expensive is t…

You Are Outsourcing Your Brain & It Might Be a Bad Idea

Middle-age spread associated with Alzheimer’s, and why Google may be bad for your brain.

The News About Fat Just Keeps Getting Worse The Journal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia reported the results of a study on fat as an Alzheimer’s factor. This very large study-1.3 million subjects- reviewed data comparing Body Mass Index (BMI) to incurrence of dementia. BMI measures the relationship between height and weight. The finding was stark and severe: being over-weight at middle age increases the risk of dementia later in life. The study was performed by a highly-respected research team, led by Psychology Professor Mika Kivimaki at University College London and Ritva Luukkonen from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Helsinki and included experts from throughout Europe. Study details here. Consumer safety tip: it contains math you didn’t see in high school. Is Google Shrinking Your Brain? Frank Gunn-Moore is a professor at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, a…