A collection of Alzheimer's-related stories. Read more about the curator at

Taking your brain for a walk: the secret to delaying dementia
Regular brisk walking three times a week increases the size of brain regions linked to planning and memory, a study has shown
Regular brisk walks can slow down the shrinking of the brain and the faltering mental skills that old age often brings, scientists say.
Studies on men and women aged 60 to 80 found that taking a short walk three times a week increased the size of brain regions linked to planning and memory over the course of a year.
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Why not just try your best to improve your health and try not to worry so much! In a study that looked at personal health in participants over the age of 65, 70% of those who said they had poor health ended up developing, over a period of seven years, dementia. More/source:

Green tea boosts your brain
Green tea is said to have many putative positive effects on health. Now, researchers at the University of Basel are reporting first evidence that green tea extract enhances the cognitive functions, in particular the working memory. The Swiss findings suggest promising clinical implications for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia. The academic journal Psychopharmacology has published their results.
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.
"My grandpa doesn’t remember how to eat. When my dad and I bring him lunch at his skilled nursing unit, he picks up his fork and examines it curiously. He holds it up to his head, ready to rake it through what’s left of his wispy white hair. My grandfather is 93 years old, and lately he has morphed into Ariel from The Little Mermaid, not a trace of recognition registering on his face as he takes in the everyday items around him with childlike wonder. Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat? He stacks the strawberries on his plate into a pyramid and howls like a rabid coyote when he hears a nearby phone ring. The napkin tucked into the collar of his shirt finds its way to his head, an impromptu hat for a man who’d rather play cards with his grilled cheese than eat his grilled cheese."
Dream Girl, Kristen Forbes (via lauraolin)

a serious loss of global cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging. It may be static, the result of a unique global brain injury, or progressive, resulting in long-term decline due to damage or disease in the body.
Etymology: taken from Latin, originally meaning “madness”, from de- “without” + ment, the root of mens “mind”.
[Robert Carter]


How to Erase a Memory – And Restore It
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have erased and reactivated memories in rats, profoundly altering the animals’ reaction to past events.
The study, published in the June 1 advanced online issue of the journal Nature, is the first to show the ability to selectively remove a memory and predictably reactivate it by stimulating nerves in the brain at frequencies that are known to weaken and strengthen the connections between nerve cells, called synapses.
“We can form a memory, erase that memory and we can reactivate it, at will, by applying a stimulus that selectively strengthens or weakens synaptic connections,” said Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD, professor of neurosciences and senior author of the study.
Scientists optically stimulated a group of nerves in a rat’s brain that had been genetically modified to make them sensitive to light, and simultaneously delivered an electrical shock to the animal’s foot. The rats soon learned to associate the optical nerve stimulation with pain and displayed fear behaviors when these nerves were stimulated.
Analyses showed chemical changes within the optically stimulated nerve synapses, indicative of synaptic strengthening.
In the next stage of the experiment, the research team demonstrated the ability to weaken this circuitry by stimulating the same nerves with a memory-erasing, low-frequency train of optical pulses. These rats subsequently no longer responded to the original nerve stimulation with fear, suggesting the pain-association memory had been erased.
In what may be the study’s most startlingly discovery, scientists found they could re-activate the lost memory by re-stimulating the same nerves with a memory-forming, high-frequency train of optical pulses. These re-conditioned rats once again responded to the original stimulation with fear, even though they had not had their feet re-shocked.
“We can cause an animal to have fear and then not have fear and then to have fear again by stimulating the nerves at frequencies that strengthen or weaken the synapses,” said Sadegh Nabavi, a postdoctoral researcher in the Malinow lab and the study’s lead author.
In terms of potential clinical applications, Malinow, who holds the Shiley Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research in Honor of Dr. Leon Thal, noted that the beta amyloid peptide that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease weakens synaptic connections in much the same way that low-frequency stimulation erased memories in the rats. “Since our work shows we can reverse the processes that weaken synapses, we could potentially counteract some of the beta amyloid’s effects in Alzheimer’s patients,” he said.

Secret behind why Alzheimer’s patients cannot make new memories discovered

"Scientists discover molecule that stops new memories forming in people with Alzheimer’s disease, raising hopes of new drugs to treat dementia"

A drug to prevent the devastating memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease is a step closer after scientists discovered the secret behind why people with dementia cannot form new memories.

It was previously thought that Alzheimer’s was primarily caused by the build up of sticky amyloid plaques in the brain which stop neurons from firing.

But drugs to clear the plaques have so far failed to bring any improvement to sufferers.

Many scientists believe that the amyloid plaques trigger a ‘cascade effect’ of other symptoms meaning that by the time they are spotted it is already too late.

Researchers at Penn State University have now discovered that those plaques may be triggering overproduction of a chemical that drives memory loss by preventing a key part of the brain from functioning.

Source: Brain benefits of bilingualism.
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Babies with Alzheimer’s gene show altered brain developmentResearchers find patterns of brain development in babies with Alzheimer’s gene is consistent with that found in seniors with the disease.

Why Can’t We Prevent Alzheimer’s?

We got the human genome a decade ago. Where are the drugs?
Read more. [Image: joansorolla/Flickr]
"Alzheimer’s is the cleverest thief, because she not only steals from you, but she steals the very thing you need to remember what’s been stolen."
Jarod Kintz  (via ipodsforalzheimers)

24 May 2013
Culturing Connections
For decades, scientists around the world have studied cells growing in the lab as an alternative to using animals – a technique known as tissue culture. But some types of cells, such as nerves cells (neurons) deep in the brain, don’t grow happily in the unfamiliar and unrealistic environment of a plastic Petri dish. To get round this problem, researchers are developing complex techniques that ever more closely mimic the conditions of the cells’ original home. This tangle of fibres is a group of nerve cells from the hippocampus – part of the brain involved in memory – growing in the lab. Reassuringly, the cells are making plenty of connections between each other, as they would do in the brain, and can be kept alive for several months. This new approach will allow researchers to study some of the processes involved in memory and diseases such as Alzheimer’s more easily.
Written by Kat Arney

Randen Patterson
University of California Davis, USA
Originally published under a Creative Commons Attribution license
Published in PLoS ONE 8(4): e58996