Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues / 24.02.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Terese Sara Høj Jørgensen PhD Assistant Professor Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences University of Copenhagen MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Dementia may develop as a result of both genetics and environmental exposures operating throughout the life course, and the risk of dementia may already be established early in life. Body height has a strong genetic component and is at the same time influenced by environmental factors early in life. Body height is an expression of growth early in life and a taller body height could express that the body has had an optimal development. At the same time, a shorter body height could be an indicator of harmful exposures early in life. A few smaller studies have identified a link between body height and dementia. However, rather than being a risk factor of dementia in itself, body height is likely an indicator of harmful exposures early in life and hereby linked to dementia. Body growth could furthermore be linked to dementia as an indicator of brain and cognitive reserve. Thus, to understand the relationship between body height and dementia, large scale high-quality longitudinal studies exploring the impact of early environmental factors and genetics to explain the link between body height and dementia were needed prior to this study. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, McGill, Neurology, Technology / 28.01.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yasser Iturria-Medina PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery Associate member of the Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health McConnell Brain Imaging Centre McGill University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: As background, two main points:
  • Almost all molecular (gene expression) analyses performed in neurodegeneration are based on snapshots data, taking at one or a few time points covering the disease's large evolution. Because neurodegenerative diseases take decades to develop, until now we didn't have a dynamical characterization of these diseases. Our study tries to overcome such limitation, proposing a data-driven methodology to study long term dynamical changes associated to disease.
Also, we still lacked robust minimally invasive and low-cost biomarkers of individual neuropathological progression. Our method is able to offer both in-vivo and post-mortem disease staging highly predictive of neuropathological and clinical alterations. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Cognitive Issues / 20.01.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Annelise Madison Lead author of the study Graduate Student in Clinical Psychology Ohio State MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Recently, there have been some reports of cognitive problems among those using proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Some breast cancer survivors use PPIs during and after treatment to manage gastrointestinal side effects of cancer treatment or to prevent damage to the gut lining. We were interested in whether PPI use among breast cancer survivors related to cognitive problems. We conducted secondary analyses on data from three studies with breast cancer survivors. We found that breast cancer survivors taking PPIs reported cognitive problems that were between 20-29% worse than those reported by non-users. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Genetic Research / 15.01.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Haining Zhu, PhD Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Frontotemporal dementia is the most common type of early onset dementia impacting people between ages 40 and 65. It affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which leads to behavior and personality changes, difficulty speaking and writing, and eventual memory deterioration. A subgroup of patients with frontotemporal dementia have a specific genetic mutation that prevents brain cells from making a protein called progranulin. Although progranulin is not well understood, its absence is linked to the disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Supplements / 16.12.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pieter A. Cohen, MD Department of Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance Somerville, Massachusetts Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There has been increasing interest in the use of over-the-counter supplements to help improve memory and cognitive function.  However, prior studies have suggested that these types of supplements might contain unapproved investigational drugs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Environmental Risks, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 24.10.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Eva Tanner, PhD, MPH, Postdoctoral Researcher Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Carl-Gustaf Bornehag, PhD Professor at Karlstad University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Most prior research on health risks from chemical exposure study one chemical at a time. However, we are exposed to a multitude of chemicals every day in the air we breathe, food and water we consume, and things we touch. This is supported by global biomonitoring data showing that humans in general have a high number of chemicals identified in their bodies, i.e., in blood, urine, breast milk, saliva, etc. Unfortunately, we don’t know how such single chemicals act in complicated mixtures and impact our health, or the health of future generations. We conducted this study to help understand how prenatal exposure to mixtures of proven or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals - found in common consumer products - during the earliest part of life may impact a child’s brain development and cognition in school age. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Exercise - Fitness, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 22.10.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Adam Bohr, PhD Postdoctoral researcher Department of Integrative Physiology University of Colorado Boulder  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:Recent population studies of former football players from the 1950's did not observe a relationship between participation in football and adverse cognitive outcomes in late adulthood. We were able to replicate this finding in a more recently ascertained cohort from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). We did not observe a relationship between participation in contact sports/football in the mid-1990s and impaired cognitive ability or mental health in early adulthood. (more…)
Alcohol, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cognitive Issues / 30.09.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Manja Koch Dr. oec. troph. (Ph.D. equivalent) Research Associate Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Majken K. Jensen, PhD Associate Professor of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthMajken K. Jensen, PhD Associate Professor of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are highly prevalent conditions. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 50 million people are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias worldwide. Given the lack of a cure or even disease-modifying therapies for most dementias, the identification of risk factors or factors that prevent or delay the onset of dementia remains of paramount concern. Alcohol is a globally consumed beverage and light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men, tends to be associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a major risk factor for dementia. However, the effects of light-to-moderate alcohol intake on the brain are less clear.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Menopause / 25.09.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: John Bark, PhD Student Behavioral Neuroscience Program Department of Psychology University of Illinois at Chicago  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: 80% of women undergoing menopause experience vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.   40-60% of women in menopause experience sleep problem.  Both of these symptoms of menopause have been associated with cognitive difficulties, but to my knowledge, this is the first study to use objective assessments of sleep and vasomotor symptoms to understand their effects on the brain. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Duke, Neurology / 24.09.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Juan Helen Zhou, PhD, on behalf of the co-authors Associate Professor and Principal Investigator Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders (NBD) Programme Duke-NUS Medical School, SingaporeJuan Helen Zhou, PhD, on behalf of the co-authors Associate Professor and Principal Investigator Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders (NBD) Programme Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular disease are among the leading disorders affecting the elderly, with up to 50 per cent of dementia patients showing co-occurrence of both disorders. It is therefore of great interest to understand the influence of co-occurring Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular disease pathologies on brain changes, and examine if such changes are able to track early differential disease progression. Past cross-sectional studies have suggested that Alzheimer's disease and cerebrovascular disease pathologies contribute independently to brain functional and structural changes, and cognitive decline. Our study sought to demonstrate the independent contributions of both pathologies to brain functional networks in a longitudinal cohort of mild cognitive impairment patients, often regarded as early stage of the disease. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Heart Disease, Stroke / 28.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gwen Windham, MD MHS Professor of Medicine Memory Impairment & Neurodegenerative Dementia (MIND) Center University of Mississippi Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Silent infarctions are a primary cause of strokes in the brain, but they are also common in people without a history of a stroke. Infarctions are generally only reported if they are larger (at least 3mm) and are ignored clinically if they are smaller (less than 3mm). We examined 20 years of cognitive decline among stroke free, middle-aged people with and without smaller, and larger infarctions. The comparison groups included participants as follows: those with (1) no infarctions, the reference group; (2) only smaller infarctions; (3) only larger infarctions 4) both smaller and larger infarctions (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, End of Life Care, Gender Differences, JAMA / 16.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Nathan Stall, MD Geriatrician and Research fellow Women’s College Research Institute       Dr. Paula Rochon, MD, MPH, FRCPC Periatrician and Vice-President of Research Women’s College Hospital     MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The advanced stages of the dementia are characterized by profound memory impairment, an inability to recognize family, minimal verbal communication, loss of ambulatory abilities, and an inability to perform basic activities of daily living. Nursing homes become a common site of care for people living with advanced dementia, who have a median survival of 1.3 years. In the advanced stages of the disease, the focus of care should generally be on maximizing quality of life. Our study examined the frequency and sex-based differences in burdensome interventions received by nursing home residents with advanced dementia at the very end of life. Burdensome interventions include a variety of treatment and procedures that are often avoidable, may not improve comfort, and are frequently distressing to residents and their families. We found that in the last 30 days of life, nearly one in 10 nursing home residents visited an emergency department, more than one in five were hospitalized, and one in seven died in an acute care setting. In addition, almost one in 10 residents received life-threatening critical care; more than one in four were physically restrained; and more than one in three received antibiotics. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Nutrition, Red Meat / 08.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jyrki Virtanen, PhD Assistant professor of nutritional epidemiology University of Eastern Finland Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition Kuopio, Finland MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: We have previously found in this same eastern Finnish male study population that higher egg intake was associated with lower risk of developing dementia and with better performance in tests assessing cognitive capacity. Eggs are a major source of choline, especially phosphatidylcholine, and choline (which is an essential nutrient) is necessary for the formation of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter. Earlier studies have linked choline intake with better cognitive processing but there was no information whether choline intake would also be associated with lower risk of developing dementia. So the purpose of our current study was to investigate whether higher choline intake would associate with better cognitive performance and with lower risk of dementia, which would support our previous findings with egg intake. And in the current study we did find that especially higher phosphatidylcholine intake was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia and also with better performance in tests measuring memory and linguistic abilities of the men in the study. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Gender Differences, Hormone Therapy, JAMA, Menopause, Weight Research / 05.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rachel Zsido PhD student Department of Neurology International Max Planck MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We integrated measures of brain network structure, visceral adipose tissue (VAT), serum estradiol levels, and cognitive performance from 974 participants in order to shed light on potential mechanisms underlying cognitive health. We believe it is imperative to assess sex-specific risk trajectories in brain aging and cognitive decline, especially given the known sex differences in both VAT accumulation patterns and estradiol fluctuations across the lifespan. Thus, we aimed to answer three questions in men and in women: 1) Does visceral adipose tissue exacerbate the association between age and brain network structure, 2) Does estradiol mitigate the negative association between VAT and brain network structure, and 3) What does this imply for healthy cognitive aging in men and women?  (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Cognitive Issues, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 24.06.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Arindam Nandi  PhD Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: The motivation for this study comes from a small but growing body of evidence on the potential long-term benefits of vaccines. The recent resurgence of measles outbreaks in several countries which had previously eliminated the virus makes our study additionally relevant. There have been over 1,000 measles cases reported across 28 states in the US so far in 2019, which is the largest number of cases the country has seen in almost 3 decades. Similarly high number of cases have been reported in several European countries in recent years. This study reiterates the importance of vaccination and proves the long-term benefits of the measles vaccine in low- and middle-income countries, which account for a large proportion of global measles cases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Gender Differences / 24.05.2019

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.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Cognitive Issues, Technology / 22.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Memory, University Texas / 16.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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.  (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Lifestyle & Health / 13.04.2019

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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Environmental Risks, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 12.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Education, Social Issues / 04.03.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Heart Disease, JAMA, Stroke / 04.03.2019

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 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.  (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Cognitive Issues, JAMA / 25.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues / 23.01.2019

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. (more…)
ALS, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Multiple Sclerosis / 08.01.2019

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 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Cognitive Issues, JAMA / 04.01.2019

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 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Cognitive Issues, OBGYNE / 05.11.2018

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 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, NEJM, Vanderbilt / 31.10.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: 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.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Genetic Research, Heart Disease / 23.10.2018

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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics, JAMA, Surgical Research / 17.10.2018

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 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. (more…)