Women Think Better When Its Warmer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tom Chang PhD, BS, MIT
Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics
Marshall School of Business

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There have been many studies showing that women prefer higher indoor
temperatures than men, however nobody looked at the effect of temperature
on performance. We show that the battle for the thermostat is not just
about the comfort. It is much more – in our experiment, women’s cognitive
functioning is the best at high temperatures, whereas men’s at low temperatures.

Significantly, the positive effect of increased temperatures on women’s performance is much stronger than the negative effect on men.

The most surprising was that the effect of temperature on women is so
strong. For instance, at low temperatures, men outperform women in a simple math task. However, when we increase the temperature, women become better and better (1.76% increase of solved tasks with each 1 Celsius increase), and at high temperatures women and men perform on the same level – the gender difference disappears.  Continue reading

BrainHQ Computerized Training Program Improved Cognitive Parameters after Mild TBI

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr.. Mahncke

Dr. Mahncke

Dr. Henry W. Mahncke PhD
Research neuroscientist
CEO of Posit Science Corporation 

MedicalResearch.com: What makes this study newsworthy? 

Response: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) is a complex condition to treat. Patients can report many symptoms (e.g., cognitive deficits, depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, pain, sleep difficulties, disorientation, emotional issues). Prior to this study, conducted at five military and veterans’ medical centers, there has been no highly-scalable intervention to treat the cognitive deficits associated with mTBI. This study showed that a plasticity-based, computerized, brain-training app can drive statistically and clinically significant gains in overall cognitive performance. Given the number of service members and vets with persistent cognitive deficits from TBIs, that’s a big deal. Continue reading

Brain Training Can Strengthen Cognitive Function in Patients With Mild Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman PhDFounder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth,Co-Leader, The BrainHealth ProjectUniversity of Texas, Dallas

Dr. Chapman

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman PhD
Founder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth,
Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project
University of Texas, Dallas

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Finding effective treatments to reverse or slow rates of cognitive decline for those at risk for developing dementia is one of the most important and urgent challenges of the 21st century.

Brain stimulation is gaining attention as a viable intervention to increase neuroplasticity when used in isolation or when combined with cognitive training regimens. Given the growing evidence that certain cognitive training protocols, such as SMART, benefit people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a population that is vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, we were interested in exploring whether we could further increase the gains from cognitive training (i.e., SMART) when the training was preceded by brain stimulation using tDCS.  Continue reading

Brain Aging Impacted by Modifiable Risk Factors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Carla R. Schubert, MS

Researcher,  EpiSense Research Program
Dept. of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
School of Medicine and Public Health
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI  53726-2336 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Mildlife is an important time-period for health later in life and also when declines in sensory and cognitive functions may begin to occur. Hearing, vision and smell impairments have been associated with cognitive impairments in older adults and with worse cognitive function in middle-aged adults.  These associations may be reflecting the close integration of sensory and cognitive systems as both require good brain function.

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Lead in Topsoil Linked to Cognitive Difficulties in 5 Year Old Boys

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Edson R. Severnini PhDAssistant Professor Of Economics And Public PolicyCarnegie Mellon University

Dr. Severnini

Edson R. Severnini PhD
Assistant Professor Of Economics And Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Although lead has been banned from gasoline, paint, and other substances in the United States and many other countries around the world, the legacy of lead use is a critical environmental and public health issue. Surface soil contamination, in particular, has been long recognized as an important pathway of human lead exposure, and is now a worldwide health concern.

This study estimates the causal effects of exposure to lead in topsoil on cognitive ability among 5-year-old children. We draw on individual level data from the 2000 U.S. Census, and USGS data on lead in topsoil covering a broad set of counties across the United States.

We find that higher lead in topsoil increases considerably the probability of 5-year-old boys experiencing cognitive difficulties such as learning, remembering, concentrating, or making decisions. Living in counties with topsoil lead concentration above the national median roughly doubles the probability of 5-year-old boys having cognitive difficulties. This harmful effect does not seem to extend to 5-year-old girls, potentially due to the natural protection of estrogen.  Continue reading

Childhood Advantages Linked to Bigger Brain Reserves But Faster Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marja Aartsen, PhDResearch professor at NOVA - Norwegian Social Research / OsloMetOslo Metropolitan University

Dr. Aartsen

Marja Aartsen, PhD
Research professor at NOVA
Norwegian Social Research / OsloMet
Oslo Metropolitan University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our study is part of a larger project “Life course influences on health trajectories at older age” conducted at the University of Geneva, of which dr. Stéphane Cullati is the principle investigator (see for more information on the project https://cigev.unige.ch/index.php?cID=887). The aim of that research project is to examine in what way retrospective life course precursors from childhood to late adulthood have long-term impacts on current health trajectories at older age. A number of studies in this project are now published among which our study on childhood conditions and cognitive functioning and cognitive decline in later life.

In our research, we were particularly interested in the origins of cognitive decline in later life.  Studies among children show that the childhood is an important phase in the development of the brain. Growing up in environments in which people are cognitively stimulated stimulates the brain to develop more complex neuronal networks and larger brain reserves, which may compensate for the neuronal losses that occur when people get older. This effect is long visible, even at old age as a number of important studies recently provided quite solid evidence for the beneficial effect of advantaged childhood conditions on level of cognitive functioning in later life. However, not many studies investigated the relation between childhood conditions and the speed of cognitive decline in later life. Those that did found inconsistent results. We reasoned that part of the inconsistencies in study findings might stem from differences in the analytical approach (not sensitive enough), too little cognitive change because of a short follow-up, too young people, or too small sample (all causing too little power to find statistically significant effects) or differences in the measurement of the childhood conditions. To overcome these potential limitations, we used a large study sample with long follow-up, used a multidimensional measurement of childhood condition, and applied a powerful analytical technique.  Continue reading

How Does a Stroke Affect Cognitive Function?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sarah Parish, MSc, DPhil Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology MRC Population Health Research Unit Nuffield Department of Population Health University of Oxford

Dr. Parish

Sarah Parish, MSc, DPhil
Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology
MRC Population Health Research Unit
Nuffield Department of Population Health
University of Oxford

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Acquiring reliable randomized evidence of the effects of cardiovascular interventions on cognitive decline is a priority. In this secondary analysis of 3 randomized intervention trials of cardiovascular event prevention, including 45 029 participants undergoing cognitive testing, we estimated the association of the avoidance of vascular events with differences in cognitive function in order to understand whether reports of non-significant results exclude worthwhile benefit.  Continue reading

Blood Pressure Control – Good for Heart, Good for the Brain!

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Jeff Douglas Williamson

Dr. Williamson

Jeff D. Williamson, MD
Geriatric Medicine – Sticht Center
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: A growing amount of epidemiologic research has suggested that higher blood pressure is associated with higher risk for dementia, including Alzheimer’s dementia.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: More than 9,300 ambulatory, community dwelling persons over age 50, 30% of whom were over the age of 75, were randomly assigned to a blood pressure goal of 120 vs 140.  Persons in the 120 group had a 19% lower risk for developing MCI an transitional stage between normal and dementia (P<.008).  There was a 17% lower risk for developing dementia but this only achieved a p value = 0.10.  The combined risk for both MCI and dementia was 15% lower in the 120 group (p<0.04).  The dementia outcome was the primary outcome but all the outcomes were pre-specified in the protocol at the beginning of the trial.  Unfortunately the blood pressure intervention was stopped after only 3.3 years due to CVD and mortality benefit and this may well have influenced the ability to reach the expected number of dementia cases. 

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Less Risk of Cognitive Decline After Elective Hospitalizations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Bryan D. James, PhD

Assistant Professor
Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center
Chicago, IL 60612 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: It has long been reported by patients, their family members, and physicians that many older adults experience long-term declines in their memory and thinking abilities after hospitalization. Studies have recently begun to confirm these reports by following older patients for years after hospitalization and repeatedly testing their cognitive abilities. A number of questions have yet to be answered, including which types of hospitalizations are most strongly related to cognitive decline.

In this study, we sought to answer whether going to the hospital for elective procedures was as risky to the cognitive health of older adults as urgent or emergency (that is, non-elective) hospitalizations.

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NUEDEXTA® (Dextromethorphan and Quinidine) Studied for ALS and MS but Primarily Use in Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael Fralick, MD, FRCPC, SM, PhD (Cand) Clinical Associate, General Internal Medicine, St Michael’s Hospital Phillipson Scholar, Clinician Scientist Program, University of Toronto  PhD Candidate, IHPME, University of Toronto Affiliated Faculty, Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University

Dr. Fralick

Michael Fralick, MD, FRCPC, SM, PhD (Cand)
Clinical Associate, General Internal Medicine
St Michael’s Hospital
Phillipson Scholar, Clinician Scientist Program, University of Toronto
PhD Candidate, IHPME, University of Toronto
Affiliated Faculty, Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This medication is a pill that combines two ingredients: dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in cough syrup) and quinidine (used to increase the concentration of dextromethorphan). The medication was primarily studied and evaluated in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)   or (multiple sclerosis) MS, but anecdotal evidence suggested it was being prescribed to patients with dementia. We used data from two nationwide healthcare databases to understand how the medication was being used in routine care.

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Autistic Adults Also Display Non-Social Cognitive Deficits

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tjasa Velikonja, PhD Department of Psychiatry The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, New York

Dr. Velikonja

Tjasa Velikonja, PhD
Department of Psychiatry
The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, New York

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Autism is a lifelong condition, and challenges associated with autism persist from childhood into adulthood. Despite this, research and treatment have been largely dedicated to children. Because of that, we had very little understanding of what areas – what cognitive domains – are most severely impacted in adults with autism. Importantly, the lack of such information also limits treatment development in this area.

What is known already is that adults with autism display deficits in social cognition (which refers to the role that cognitive processes play in our social interactions). Although our meta-analysis supported these theories, it also highlighted several other challenges in cognitive processing, such as deficits in processing speed and verbal learning and memory. And these impairments were observed in adults with autism without an overall intellectual disability.

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Prenatal Heavy Cannabis Exposure May Diminish Cognitive Functioning Into Adulthood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ryan J. McLaughlin, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience College of Veterinary Medicine Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164-7620

Dr. McLaughlin

Ryan J. McLaughlin, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-7620

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The use of cannabis during pregnancy is a growing health concern, yet the long-term cognitive ramifications for developing offspring remain largely unknown. Human studies exploring the long-term effects of maternal cannabis use have been sparse for several reasons, including the length and cost of such studies, as well as the fact that experimentally assigning mothers to smoke cannabis during pregnancy is obviously ethically impractical. Animal models of maternal cannabis use have been advantageous in this respect, but they have been limited by the drugs used (synthetic cannabinoids vs. THC vs. cannabis plant) and the way that they are administered. In our study, we used a more translationally relevant animal model of maternal cannabis use that exposes pregnant rat dams to whole plant cannabis extracts using the intra-pulmonary route of administration that is most common to human users. Our preliminary data indicate that twice-daily exposure to a high-dose cannabis extract during pregnancy may produce deficits in cognitive flexibility in adult rat offspring. Importantly, these rats did not experience general learning deficits, as they performed comparably to non-exposed offspring when required to follow a cue in their environment that dictate reinforcer delivery. Instead, deficits were observed only when rats were required to disregard this previous cue-based strategy and adopt a new egocentric spatial strategy in order to continue receiving the sugar reinforcers.

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Critical Illness: Haloperidol and Ziprasidone for Treatment of Delirium

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brenda Truman Pun, DNP, RN Program Clinical Manager Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Truman Pun

Brenda Truman Pun, DNP, RN
Program Clinical Manager
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Delirium is a serious problem in Intensive Care Units around the world. Approximately 80% of mechanically ventilated patients develop delirium, acute confusion, while in the ICU. Once thought to be a benign side effect of the ICU environment, research now shows that delirium is linked to a myriad of negative outcomes for patients which include longer ICU and Hospital stays, prolonged time on the ventilator, increased cost, long-term cognitive impairment and even mortality. For a half a century clinicians have been using haloperidol, an typical antipsychotic, to treat delirium in the ICU. However, there has never been evidence to support the use of haloperidol or its pharmacologic cousins, the atypical antipsychotics, to treat delirium. These drugs have serious side effects that include heart arrhythmias, muscle spasms, restlessness and are associated with increased mortality when given for prolonged periods in the outpatient settings leading to a black box warning for their use in this setting.

The MIND-USA study was a double blind placebo controlled trial which evaluated the efficacy and safety of antipsychotics (i.e., haloperidol and ziprasidone) in the treatment delirium in adult ICU patients.   Continue reading

Is Pregnancy a “Stress Test” for Future Dementia Risk?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Pregnancy 1" by operalynn is licensed under CC BY 2.0Heather Boyd, Ph.D.
Senior researcher
Department of Epidemiology Research
Copenhagen Denmark

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We have known for a while that women who have had preeclampsia report different types of cognitive impairment (difficulties with short-term memory, attention deficits) in the years and decades after their pregnancies, and there are a few imaging studies suggesting that these women may have more white matter lesions in the brain and more signs of brain atrophy than women with uncomplicated pregnancies. We also know that women who have had preeclampsia are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the years and decades after delivery. Taken together, it was not a great leap to hypothesize that women with a history of preeclampsia might also be at increased risk of dementia later in life. However, the existing epidemiological data were unconvincing, possibly because it takes a great deal of power (a very large study population) to study links between two conditions that often occur decades apart.

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Mild Cognitive Decline 2-6 Months After Heart Valve Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with

Mark Oldham, M.D. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Medical Director, PRIME Medicine Proactive Integration of Mental Health Care in Medicine University of Rochester Medical Center

Dr. Oldham

Mark Oldham, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Medical Director, PRIME Medicine
Proactive Integration of Mental Health Care in Medicine
University of Rochester Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Patients who have undergone coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery and, specifically, those who have been placed on cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) have received attention for the potential effects of such procedures on brain health. Heart valve surgery patients have received far less attention, which often leaves clinicians to extrapolate the data from CABG cohorts to their patients preparing to undergo valve surgery. However, there are many reasons why this is far less than ideal, especially as the CABG literature increasingly points to person- and procedure-specific factors as the determinants of postoperative cognitive outcomes.

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Brain Imaging Reveals How Prolonged Intermittent Cannabis Can Induce Memory Deficits

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Italia V. Rolle, PhD and Dr. Tim McAfee, MD Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC

Ana Maria Sebastião, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology and Neurosciences
Director Institute of Pharmacology and Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine and
Francisco Mouro, PhD
Unit of Neurosciences, Institute of Molecular Medicine
University of Lisbon, Portugal

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: There is pressing need to comprehend how cannabinoid exposure impacts brain functioning. While cannabinoid-related research has increased exponentially in the last decade, the mechanisms through which cannabinoids affect brain functioning are still elusive. Specifically, we need to know how prolonged cannabinoid exposure affects important cognitive processes, such as memory, and also find the roots of those effects. This is particularly relevant considering that several countries have already approved cannabis-based medicines.

In this sense, our work sheds new light into the mechanisms underlaying the memory-deficits provoked by a continuous exposure to a cannabinoid drug. More precisely, using brain imaging techniques, we found that long-term exposure to a synthetic cannabinoid drug impairs the ability of key brain regions involved in learning and memory to communicate with each other. Our data points to the necessity of considering cannabinoid actions in a broader perspective, including brain circuitry and communication.  Continue reading

Forgetting To Do Things? Try Acting in Advance

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Antonina Pereira - CPsychol, PhD, FHEA, AFBPsS Head of Department of Psychology & Counselling University of Chichester Chichester, West Sussex UK

Dr. Pereira

Dr Antonina Pereira – CPsychol, PhD, FHEA, AFBPsS
Head of Department of Psychology & Counselling
University of Chichester
Chichester, West Sussex UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Prospective memory (PM) is the ability to remember to perform future activities, such as remembering to take medication or remembering to attend an appointment. Prospective memory tasks pervade our daily lives, and PM failures, although sometimes merely annoying (e.g., forgetting an umbrella at home on a rainy day), can have serious and even life-threatening consequences (e.g., forgetting to turn off the stove).

The fulfilment of such delayed intended actions can indeed be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, with prospective memory failures representing one of the most prominent memory concerns in older adulthood and a fundamental requirement for independent living across the lifespan.

We aimed to address this issue by exploring the potential benefits of a purposefully designed technique, encoded enactment, where participants were encouraged to act through the activity they must remember to do.

This particular study was the fruit of an international research collaboration led by the University of Chichester and including members from Radboud University Nijmegen, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon.

Our team has explored the potential benefits of this specific encoding strategy for healthy younger adults, healthy older adults as well as for patients with mild cognitive impairment.

Results were very encouraging: All age groups reported improvement in prospective memory, but this was particularly evident in older patients with mild cognitive impairment, that is, potentially in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study suggests that encouraging people in this category to adopt enactment as a means to enhance prospective memory could result in them leading independent, autonomous lives for longer.

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Are Well-Off People Protected from Dementia?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Dorina Cadar
Research Associate in Dementia
Psychobiology Group
Department of Behavioural Science and Health
University College London
London

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Dementia is one of the most feared medical conditions, which represents a significant global challenge to health and social care.

Education may serve different roles in the development of dementia: it is a proxy for early life experiences and (parental) socioeconomic status, it is related to future employment prospects, income and wealth, determines occupational exposures and characteristics of adult life (e.g., job complexity, work stress, environmental exposures) and it provides lifelong skills for optimal mental abilities and mastery. However, given that education is typically completed many decades before dementia onset, other individual and area-based components of socioeconomic status, such as wealth, income and area deprivation may provide a more accurate indication of current socioeconomic resources.  Also, at older ages, accumulated wealth represents a more robust measure of socioeconomic resources than income or occupation alone.

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Brain Structure, Height and Cognitive Ability Linked

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Eero Vuoksimaa PhD Institute for Molecular Medicine University of Helsinski Finland

Dr. Vuoksimaa

Dr. Eero Vuoksimaa PhD
Institute for Molecular Medicine
University of Helsinski
Finland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are many previous reports indicating a positive association between height and cognitive ability but the underlying mechanisms behind this correlation are not well known. We used a mediation model to test if this association is explained by brain size as measured with cortical grey matter size.

We found that total cortical surface mediated the relationship between height and cognitive ability.

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Some Depression and Overactive Bladder Drugs Linked to Dementia

Medicalresearch.com Interview with:

Professor Phyo Kyaw Myint Chair in Old Age Medicine University of Aberdeen

Prof. Myint

Professor Phyo Kyaw Myint
Chair in Old Age Medicine
University of Aberdeen

Medicalresearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We have previously studied the potential harmful effects of a group of medications called anticholinergics. They can have side effects on central as well peripheral systems. The link between use of these drugs and dementia is less well understood due to limitations of previous studies.

We used large GP practices data from the UK with long term follow up and examined this association using robust statistical methods.

Medicalresearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Key findings are:

  • Drugs with anticholinergic properties which are used to treat depression, urological conditions (e.g. for overactive bladder) and Parkinsonism are linked to development of dementia.
  • Drugs with similar properties which are used to treat gut disorders and heart conditions are not found to be linked to dementia
  • Drugs with low level of anticholinergic effect are not linked to dementia

Medicalresearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Clinicians should use the drugs with high level of anticholinergic burden cautiously. Also attempts should be made whenever appropriate to reduce or replace with similar drugs but without such properties.

Medicalresearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We need to ensure confounding effects are minimised by conducting carefully designed prospective studies. Further clinical trial evidence of benefit of deprescribing of these medications (when possible) in at risk populations is also urgently warranted.

Medicalresearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: In the absence of trial evidence, this study provides best available evidence using robust statistical methods in the largest study of its kind and will help clinicians in making treatment choices for the benefit of the patients.

Citation:

Anticholinergic drugs and risk of dementia: case-control study

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1315 (Published 25 April 2018)Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1315

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

 

 

 

Diet Soda and Excess Sugar During Pregnancy May Depress Child’s Cognition

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Soda” by Jannes Pockele is licensed under CC BY 2.0Juliana F. W. Cohen, ScM, ScD

Department of Health Sciences
Merrimack College
North Andover MA 01845.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Sugar consumption among Americans is above recommended limits and this excess intake may have important health implications.

This study examined the associations of pregnancy and offspring sugar consumption, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages, other beverages (diet soda, juice), and fruit consumption with child cognition.

This study found that when pregnant women or their children consumed greater quantities of sugar, as well as when women consumed diet soda during pregnancy, this was associated with poorer childhood cognition.  However, children’s fruit consumption was associated with higher cognitive scores.

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Link Between Epilepsy Drugs and Increased Risk of Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Britta Haenisch, PhD

Pharmacoepidemiology in Neurodegenerative Disorders
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases,
DZNE 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have been shown to affect cognition by suppressing neuronal excitability and increasing inhibitory neurotransmission. Previous studies suggested that AEDs may be associated with cognitive adverse effects. Therefore, we evaluated the association between AED use and incident dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

We utilized large longitudinal datasets from Finnish health registers and from German health insurance data. The case-control analyses was adjusted for several potential confounders like comorbidities and polypharmacy. The inclusion of a lag time between . Antiepileptic drugs use and dementia diagnosis allowed minimization of protopathic bias.

Our study provides an association between regular prescription of  antiepileptic drugs with known cognitive adverse effects and the occurrence of dementia and AD in patients aged 65 years and older.  Continue reading

Despite Advancing Neonatal Health, Preterm Babies Still Risk Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sabrina Twilhaar, MS, PhD candidate Child Study Group, sectie Klinische Neuropsychologie Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Sabrina Twilhaar

Sabrina Twilhaar, MS, PhD candidate
Child Study Group, sectie Klinische Neuropsychologie
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: It is well-known that preterm birth has negative consequences for cognitive development.

During the early 1990s important progress in neonatal health care resulted in a considerable increase in the survival of preterm infants. Earlier meta-analyses showed large differences in intelligence between very preterm and full-term born children. However, these meta-analyses included mostly studies on children born before 1990. Because of the advances in neonatal health care since that time, it was important to update our knowledge on the outcomes of more recently born preterm infants. We combined the results of 71 studies, together including 7752 very preterm and 5155 full-term born children, and found a difference in intelligence between very preterm and full-term children that was still large.

Interestingly, despite advancing neonatal health care, we also found no indication of improvement in the cognitive outcomes of very preterm born children during the period from 1990 to 2008. In addition, we searched for factors that increase the risk for poor cognitive outcomes in these children and we found that children with a chronic lung disease that is amongst others caused by mechanical ventilation of the immature lungs are even more at risk for poor cognitive outcomes.

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What is the Biggest Modifiable Risk Factor For Dementia? Alcohol

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“undefined” by Iñaki Queralt is licensed under CC BY 2.0Michaël Schwarzinger, MD, PhD

Translational Health Economics Network (THEN)
Paris

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The association of heavy drinking with dementia has been known for decades. For instance, there is about no Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome without heavy drinking and the syndrome was described in 1890. But this type of dementia is very rare. Also, heavy drinking is knowingly associated with multiple risk factors for dementia onset such as hypertension or diabetes. But heavy drinkers generally refuse to participate to cohort studies and declaration of alcohol use among participants is generally biased downward… So the study rationale is very strong, but supporting empirical evidence is quite scarce.

This nationwide study included all 31+ million adults discharged from hospitals over 6 years, i.e., 50% of the French population before 65 years old and 80% above that age. Of 1.1+ million adults diagnosed with dementia, one in twenty had an early-onset (before 65 years old). Heavy drinking was recorded in most (56%) early-onset dementia cases: two-third in men; one-third in women. In addition, the association of heavy drinking with dementia goes far beyond 65 years old, both directly (>3 times higher risk for dementia onset after controlling for more than 30 known risk factors for dementia) and indirectly as heavy drinking was associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset. Accordingly, heavy drinking had the largest effect on dementia risk of all independent modifiable risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes.

The effects were found whatever dementia case definition or population studies.

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Low Sodium Levels Linked To Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Aurora, CO 80045

Dr. Nowak

Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD
Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Aurora, CO 80045

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Subtle impairments in cognition are common with aging, even in the absence of clinically apparent dementia. Mild hyponatremia is a common finding in older adults; however, the association of lower serum sodium with cognition in older adults is currently uncertain.

We hypothesized that lower normal serum sodium would be associated with prevalent cognitive impairment and the risk of cognitive decline over time in asymptomatic, community-dwelling older men.

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Daytime Light Important For Brain Health

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Lily Yan MD PhD Department of Psychology & Neuroscience Program Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824 

Dr. Lily Yan

Dr. Lily Yan MD PhD
Department of Psychology & Neuroscience Program
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • The effects of light on cognitive function have been well-documented in human studies, with brighter illumination associated with better cognitive performance. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are not well understood.
  • In this study, we explored the mechanisms of how light modulates spatial learning and memory, using diurnal Nile grass rats. In contrast to most laboratory animals that are active at night and fall asleep following light exposure, these animals are active during the day, thus an ideal model for understanding the effects of light on humans.
  • When the animals were housed in dim light during the day, mimicking the cloudy days or typical indoor lighting, the animals had a ~30% reduction in the dendritic spines, which make the connection between brain cells, within the hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning and memory. Animals housed in dim light also performed poorly in a water maze, compared to those housed in bright light.
  • When the animals that had been in dim light were then housed in bright light for 4 weeks, the connections in their hippocampus and performance in the water maze recovered fully. 

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Personality Changes Can Presage Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard J. Caselli MD Department of Neurology Mayo Clinic Arizona Scottsdale, AZ 

Dr. Caselli

Richard J. Caselli MD
Department of Neurology
Mayo Clinic Arizona
Scottsdale, AZ  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Personality changes are common in patients with a variety of dementing illnesses, and underlie the behavioral disturbances that complicate the course of dementia patients.  We have a been conducting a large longitudinal study of cognitive aging in individuals at genetically defined risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) based on their APOE genotype, and have been administering a large battery of neuropsychological tests as well as the gold standard personality questionnaire (the NEO-PI-R) in order to determine whether personality changes during the transition from normal cognition/preclinical AD to mild cognitive impairment.   Continue reading

Brain Imaging Associated With Heritable Cognitive Ability and Psychopathology

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes” by Victor Soto is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dag Alnaes, PhD
Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research
KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research
Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital
Oslo, Norway 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The transition from childhood to adulthood is characterized by swift and dramatic changes, both in our environment and in our brains. This period of life also coincides with the onset of many mental disorders.

To gain a better understanding of why, the clinical neurosciences must attempt to disentangle the complex and dynamic interactions between genes and the environment and how they shape our brains. The ultimate goal is to be able to predict which individuals are at risk before clinical symptoms appear. Advanced brain imaging has been proposed to represent one promising approach for such early detection, but there is currently no robust imaging marker that allows us to identify individuals at risk with any clinically relevant degree of certainty.

Our study shows that self-reported early signs of mental illness are associated with specific patterns of brain fiber pathways in young people, even if they may not fulfill criteria for a formal diagnosis or are currently in need of treatment.  Continue reading

Not Clear That Physical Activity Programs Reduce Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Exercise” by Diabetes Education Events is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Michelle Brasure, MSPH, PhD, MLIS
Evidence-based Practice Center
School of Public Health
University of Minnesota 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We conducted a large systematic review to assess the evidence relating to interventions to prevent cognitive decline and dementia. We included experimental studies with follow up times of at least six months. This paper analyzes the physical activity interventions; other papers in this issue address other types of interventions.

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Hearing Loss Associated With Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Hear” by Jaya Ramchandani is licensed under CC BY 2.0David G. Loughrey, BA(Hons)

NEIL (Neuro Enhancement for Independent Lives) Programme
Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, School of Medicine
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Age-related hearing loss, a common chronic condition among older adults, has emerged in the literature as a potential modifiable risk factor for dementia. This is of interest as current pharmacological therapies for dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease only offer symptom-modifying effects. Treatment of risk factors such as hearing loss may help delay the onset of dementia and may provide an alternate therapeutic strategy. However, there is variance in the research on hearing loss and cognition with some studies reporting a small or non-significant association. In this meta-analysis, we investigated this association and we only included observational studies that used standard assessments of cognitive function and pure-tone audiometry (the clinical standard).

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