Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, University of Michigan / 18.03.2015

Donovan Maust, MD, MS Assistant Professor of Psychiatry University of Michigan Research Scientist, Center for Clinical Management Research VA Ann Arbor Healthcare SystemMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Donovan Maust, MD, MS Assistant Professor of Psychiatry University of Michigan Research Scientist, Center for Clinical Management Research VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Maust: From a recent government report, we known that about 1/3 of older adults with dementia in nursing homes and about 14% of those in the community have been prescribed an antipsychotic. While providers focus on what benefit the treatment they offer, it is important to also be aware of the potential harms, particularly when it is death. Prior estimates came from relatively short studies and showed a 1% increase. This paper finds that, over 180 days, the increased mortality comparing antipsychotic users to matched non-users is about 2 to 5 times higher. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics, JAMA / 03.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Enrico Mossello Research Unit of Medicine of Ageing Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine University of Florence MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mossello: In spite of the high prevalence of high blood pressure (HBP) and cognitive impairment in old age, their relationship is still controversial. While several (but not all) studies have identified high blood pressure as a risk factor for incident cognitive impairment, evidence regarding the prognostic role of blood pressure in cognitively impaired older subjects is scarce and inconsistent. To our knowledge, no longitudinal study has been published up to now regarding Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) in subjects with cognitive impairment. Moreover recent European and American guidelines on HBP leave decisions on antihypertensive therapy of frail elderly patients to the treating physician and do not provide treatment targets for cognitively impaired patients. In the present cohort study of subjects with dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) low values of day-time systolic blood pressure measured with ABPM were associated with greater progression of cognitive decline after a median 9-month follow-up. This association was limited to subjects treated with anti-hypertensive drugs and was independent of age, vascular comorbidity and baseline cognitive level, holding significant both in dementia and in Mild Cognitive Impairment subgroups. A similar trend of association was observed for office systolic blood pressure, although this was weaker and did not reach statistical significance in all analyses. (more…)
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Cognitive Issues / 28.02.2015

Optimized-dr-raza-naqviMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Raza M. Naqvi, MD, FRCPC Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Geriatric Medicine Western University Victoria Hospital London, ON Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Naqvi: The rates of dementia are rising worldwide. Currently we have over 35 million individuals with dementia in the world and this number will triple to over 100 million by 2050 according to the WHO. Many of these cases are in countries where English is not the first language and thus it is important to ensure that the diagnostic and assessment tools we use are valid in the populations being assessed. The Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale (RUDAS) was developed in Australia in 2004 specifically to address the challenges of detecting cognitive impairment in culturally and linguistically diverse populations. This assessment tool is a brief questionnaire that clinicians can use as part of their initial assessment in those with memory loss or cognitive decline. It is freely available online (Search ‘RUDAS’) and takes less than 10 minutes for a clinician to complete with the individual being assessed. Our study was a systematic review and meta-analysis of the RUDAS which aimed to clarify the diagnostic properties of the test and see how it compares to other similar tests that are available. Through our detailed search of the literature we found 11 studies including over 1200 patients that assessed the RUDAS. The studies showed a combined sensitivity of 77.2% and specificity of 85.9%. This means that a positive test increases one’s likelihood of having dementia more than 5-fold and a negative test decreases their likelihood by 4-fold. Across the various studies, the Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale performed similarly to the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the most commonly used cognitive assessment tool worldwide. The RUDAS appeared to be less influenced by language and education than the MMSE. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues / 02.02.2015

Dr. BidelmanMedicalResearch.com Interview with Gavin M. Bidelman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Institute for Intelligent Systems School of Communication Sciences & Disorders University of Memphis Memphis, TN  38105 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bidelman: Musical training as been shown to enhance brain function and impact behavioral skills (e.g., speech and language functions) in younger adults. In the current study, we investigated whether or not these advantages extend to older brains, which are thought to be less "plastic" (i.e., less malleable to experience/training). Older adults also often experience reduced speech recognition abilities later in life so we wanted to see if musicianship can serve as an effective means to bolster speech listening skills that decline across the lifespan. Main findings: 1) On average, older musicians were 20% faster in identifying speech sounds behaviorally than their nonmusician peers. Interestingly, this is similar to the benefit we have observed in young people with musical training. 2) We were able to predict how well people classify/identify speech via (EEG) brain activity in both groups. However, this brain-behavior correspondence was ~2-3x better in older musicians. In other words, old musicians' brains provide a much more detailed, clean, and accurate depiction of the speech signal which is likely why they are much more sensitive to speech behaviorally. 3) We compared neural responses generated from multiple levels of the auditory system and found that musicians had more coordination (significantly higher correlations) between different regions. This implies that the "musical brain" operates more in concert than in non-musicians. All of these findings challenge conventional views that older brain's are no longer plastic, are somehow noisier, and show poorer coordination across brain regions. In fact we show just the opposite. In older brains, musicianship does produce pervasive plasticity, provides cleaner (less noisy) representations of speech, and orchestrates more neural coordination. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Memory / 02.02.2015

dr-peter-bayleyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Peter Bayley PhD War Related Illness and Injury Study Center Veteran Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System Palo Alto, California MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bayley: There is currently widespread interest and debate surrounding the topic of screening for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia The study describes results from National Memory Screening Day in 2010, an annual community event sponsored by the Alzheimer Foundation of America. Face-to-face screening takes place in a private setting; only the individual being tested and the screener are present. The memory screening consists of one of seven validated cognitive tests: the GPCOG (General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition), MINI-COG, MIS (Memory Impairment Screen), the BAS (Brief Alzheimer’s Screening), Kokmen Short Test of Mental Status, Mini-Mental State Examination, Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or the Saint Louis University Mental Status Examination.  Participants with scores below cutoff for possible dementia are encouraged to bring the results to their healthcare professional for follow-up and/or inclusion in medical files. We report the results from a subset of 3,064 participants. Overall, 11.7% failed one of the memory screening tests. As expected, failure rates were higher in older and less-educated participants (P’s < .05). Subjective memory concerns were associated with a 40% greater failure rate for persons of similar age and education but no memory concerns (odds ratio = 1.4, 95% confidence interval = 1.07–1.78). However, most individuals who expressed concern about their memories passed the screening tests (54-96%, depending on age and education). (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, HIV / 27.01.2015

Sophie Cohen MD, PhD Student Department of Pediatric Haematology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Emma Children's Hospital, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Cairns Base Hospital Australia MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sophie Cohen MD, PhD Student Department of Pediatric Haematology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Emma Children's Hospital, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Cairns Base Hospital Australia Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has become widely available for HIV-infected children, the incidence of severe neurological complications has decreased drastically from 30-50% to less than 2%. Unfortunately, even in cART-treated HIV-infected children a range of cognitive problems have been found, such as a lower intelligence quotient (IQ) and poorer visual-motor integration. Importantly, while most HIV-infected children in industrialized countries are immigrants with a relatively low socioeconomic status (SES), cognitive studies comparing HIV-infected children to SES-matched controls are very scarce.  Understanding the prevalence and etiology of cognitive deficits in HIV-infected children is essential because they may result in more pronounced problems, and influence future intellectual performance, job opportunities and community participation. Also, early detection of cognitive impairment might trigger the development of early intervention strategies. In this study we aimed to compare the neuropsychological profile of HIV-infected children to that of healthy controls, matched for age, gender, ethnicity and SES. Also, we aimed to determine the prevalence of cognitive impairment in the HIV-infected group and detect associations between HIV/cART parameters and cognitive performance. We found that the HIV-infected group had a poorer cognitive performance compared with the healthy children on all tested domains (including intelligence, information processing speed, attention, memory, executive- and visual-motor functioning). Using a novel statistical method called Multivariate normative comparison (MNC), we detected a prevalence of 17% with cognitive impairment in the HIV-infected group. Lastly, we found that the center for disease control (CDC) clinical category at HIV diagnosis was inversely associated with verbal IQ (CDC C: coefficient -22.98, P=0.010). (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA / 26.01.2015

Shelly L. Gray, PharmD, MS Professor of Pharmacy School of Pharmacy, University of Washington, SeattleMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Shelly L. Gray, PharmD, MS Professor of Pharmacy School of Pharmacy, University of Washington, Seattle Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gray: Many medications have anticholinergic effects such as those used to treat overactive bladder, seasonal allergies, and depression.  The general view is that anticholinergic-induced cognitive impairment is reversible, however, emerging evidence suggests that these medications may be associated with increased dementia risk.  We conducted a prospective population-based cohort study in 3434 older adults to examine whether cumulative anticholinergic medication use is associated with increased risk of incident dementia.  Using automated pharmacy data, we found that higher 10-year cumulative dose was associated with increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer disease over an average of 7.3 years of follow-up.  In particular, people with the highest use (e.g. taking the equivalent of oxybutynin 5 mg/day or chlorpheniramine 4 mg/day for longer than 3 years) were at greatest risk. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues / 26.01.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Craig S. Atwood Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin Madison, WI Richard L. Bowen, M.D. Private Practice, Charleston, SC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Currently, there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s disease that halts or slows its progression. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder resulting in memory loss and impairments of behavioral, language and visuo-spatial skills. A growing body of biological, preclinical and epidemiological data suggests that the age-related changes in hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis are a major etiological factor in Alzheimer disease. The changes in these hormones include not only the decline in the sex steroids, (i.e. 17-estradiol and testosterone), but the elevations in gonadotropin-releasing hormone and luteinizing hormone. In particular there are encouraging epidemiological studies involving the use of Lupron Depot which suppresses these hormones. In one such study which included hundreds of thousands of patients it was found that men who had prostate disease and were treated with Lupron Depot had a 34 to 55 percent decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared with prostate-cancer patients who didn’t receive the drug. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Cognitive Issues, Sleep Disorders / 26.01.2015

Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D. Principal Investigator of the Sleep Neuroscience & Cognition (SNaC) Laboratory and an Assistant Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience Director Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory Baylor UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D. Principal Investigator of the Sleep Neuroscience & Cognition (SNaC) Laboratory and an Assistant Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience Director Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory Baylor University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Scullin: One of the purposes of sleep in healthy adults is to optimize cognitive functioning. When we lose out on a few hours of sleep we tend not to be able to focus or think as well as when we get enough sleep (typically 8 hours). Even more interesting is that particular aspects of sleep physiology—our deepest levels of sleep known as slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep—are essential to our brain’s ability to take the information that we learn during the day and stabilize those memories so that we can use them in the future. Sleep quantity and quality change markedly across the lifespan, though there are individual differences in how much one’s sleep changes. Our work was concerned with the possible long-term repercussions of cutting back on sleep and getting lower quality sleep (less slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep).  We reviewed approximately 200 scientific articles on this topic and we found that the amount of total sleep and the quality of that sleep is important to cognitive and memory functioning in young adults and middle-aged adults and can even predict how well someone’s cognitive functioning will be decades later. Thus, if you’re sleeping well when you are 40 then you are investing in preserving your mental functioning at age 50. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Exercise - Fitness / 21.01.2015

Dr. Liana Machado PhD Department of Psychology Brain Health Research Centre University of Otago  Dunedin New ZealandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Liana Machado PhD Department of Psychology Brain Health Research Centre University of Otago  Dunedin New Zealand Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A large body of data indicates links between chronic physical activity levels and cognitive performance in healthy populations. Although the bulk of evidence comes from studies in older adults, a number of studies have established links in children and in young adults. However, the mechanisms supporting the exercise-cognition links have remained unclear. Finding from an earlier study of ours, published in the journal Neuropsychology, pointed toward cerebrovascular factors as potentially important. In our new study in Psychophysiology, we found evidence suggesting that higher oxygen availability in the brain is one of the cerebrovascular factors that helps support better cognitive performance in people who exercise more regularly, thus providing important insight toward understanding why cognitive performance improves with regular exercise. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, PNAS / 14.01.2015

Dr Christos Pliatsikas PhD Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology School of Psychology University of Kent Canterbury KentMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Christos Pliatsikas PhD Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology School of Psychology University of Kent Canterbury Kent Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It has been proposed that lifelong bilingualism preserves the white matter structure of older bilinguals because of the increased cognitive demands that come with handling two languages for their entire life. We wanted to extend this by investigating whether active (or "immersive") bilingualism in younger late bilinguals would give similar results. We showed increased white matter integrity (or myelination) in several white matter tracts that have also been shown to be better preserved in older lifelong bilinguals, compared to monolinguals.  Based on our findings, we propose that any benefit of bilingualism to the brain structure is simply an effect of actively handling two languages without presupposing lifelong usage- our participants were only about 30 years old and had been active bilinguals for only about 7-8 years. In other words, immersive bilingualism, even in late bilinguals, leads to structural changes that can bring about benefits in older age, by assisting in the preservation of the white matter structure in the brain. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Depression, Primary Care / 31.12.2014

Patrick Monahan, Ph.D. Associate Professor Indiana University School of Medicine and School of Public HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Patrick Monahan, Ph.D. Associate Professor Indiana University School of Medicine and School of Public Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Monahan: Primary care providers need a clinical practical (e.g., brief, inexpensive, simple, user-friendly, easily standardized, and widely available) multidomain instrument to measure and monitor the cognitive, functional, and psychological symptoms of patients suffering from multiple chronic conditions. The tool also needs to be sensitive to change so that providers can use it to monitor patient outcomes and adjust the care plan accordingly. We created such a tool and then investigated its psychometric properties (in other words, reliability and validity) in our study of 291 older patients (aged 65 and older) who had at least one recent visit to our urban primary care clinics in Indianapolis, Indiana. These patients had presented with evidence of cognitive or depression problems because these patients and their caregivers were participating in a collaborative care model for such patients. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Monahan: The Healthy Aging Brain Care (HABC) Monitor demonstrated excellent reliability and validity in this study where patients self-reported their symptoms. Our previous study also showed excellent reliability and validity of the HABC Monitor when the patients’ symptoms were reported by their informal caregiver. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Metabolic Syndrome / 22.12.2014

Prof. Giovambattista Desideri Università degli Studi dell'Aquila Direttore  UOC Geriatria e Lungodegenza Geriatrica Scuola di Specializzazione in Geriatria Scuola di Specializzazione in Medicina d'Emergenza-UrgenzaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Giovambattista Desideri Università degli Studi dell'Aquila Direttore  UOC Geriatria e Lungodegenza Geriatrica Scuola di Specializzazione in Geriatria Scuola di Specializzazione in Medicina d'Emergenza-Urgenza Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Desideri: Over the past decade, there has been an accumulating body of evidence that indicates that the consumption of cocoa flavanol-containing products can improve vascular function. Though much research has focused on the cardiovascular system, there is reason to believe that some of the benefits of cocoa flavanol consumption could extend also to the brain which is a heavily vascularized tissue that depends on regular blood flow to meet its metabolic demands. Thus, the current study tested the hypothesis that the regular inclusion of cocoa flavanols for 8 weeks could positively affect cognitive function in cognitively-intact older adults. The effects of cocoa flavanol ingestion on various cardiometabolic endpoints, including blood pressure and insulin sensitivity, were also evaluated given consistent evidence of positive effects of flavanols on these outcomes and the potentially influential role of these outcomes on cognitive function. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Desideri:The study enrolled 90 men and women aged 61-85 years with no evidence of cognitive dysfunction who were assigned to one of three flavanol groups, consuming a drink containing high (993 mg), intermediate ( 520 mg) or low (48 mg) amounts of cocoa flavanols every day for 8 weeks. Among those individuals who regularly consumed either the high-or intermediate-flavanol drinks, there were significant improvements in some measures of age-related cognitive dysfunction.  In the high- and intermediate-flavanol groups, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were reduced and insulin resistance was significantly improved.   It is not yet fully understood how cocoa flavanols bring about improvements in cognitive function, but the study results suggest that the improvements in insulin resistance and blood pressure could be revealing. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Genetic Research, JAMA / 13.12.2014

David H. Ledbetter, Ph.D., FACMG Executive Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer, Geisinger Health System Danville, PA 17822MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David H. Ledbetter, Ph.D., FACMG Executive Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer, Geisinger Health System Danville, PA 17822 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ledbetter: One of the biggest challenges in clinical care and research of children with autism and related neurodevelopment disorders is the remarkable clinical variability between individuals. This heterogeneity is reduced, but still significant, when considering individuals who have neurodevelopment disorders due to the identical genetic mutation such as deletion 16p11.2. We proposed that family background, genetic or environmental, may contribute to the variability in cognitive, behavioral and motor performance profiles of children with a sporadic (new) mutation in 16p11.2. Our study confirmed that a significant portion of the clinical variability seen in these children is due to the performance level of their parents and unaffected siblings and suggested that this may be due in part to genetic background effects as these traits are all known to have very high heritability. (more…)
Cognitive Issues, Sleep Disorders / 30.11.2014

Daniel Sternberg PhD. Data Scientist at LumosityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniel Sternberg PhD. Data Scientist at Lumosity Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sternberg: We were interested in examining how lifestyle factors such as sleep, mood and time of day impact cognitive game play performance. We analyzed game play performance data on Lumosity tasks from more than 60,000 participants and found that performance on the tasks designed to challenge memory, speed, and flexibility peaked in the morning, while performance on tasks designed to challenge aspects of crystallized knowledge such as arithmetic and verbal fluency peaked in the afternoon. Overall, game performance for most tasks was highest after seven hours of sleep and with positive moods, though performance on tasks that challenged crystallized knowledge sometimes peaked with less sleep. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Weight Research / 26.11.2014

Nicolas Cherbuin PhD ARC Future Fellow - Director of the NeuroImaging and Brain Lab Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing Research School of Population Health - College of Medicine Biology and Environment Australian National UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nicolas Cherbuin PhD ARC Future Fellow - Director of the NeuroImaging and Brain Lab Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing Research School of Population Health - College of Medicine Biology and Environment Australian National University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cherbuin: A number of modifiable risk factors for cognitive aging dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have been identified with a high level of confidence by combining evidence from animal research and systematic reviews of the literature in humans that summarise the available findings without focusing on extreme findings that come about from time to time in research. One such risk factor is obesity for which we have previously conducted a systematic review (Anstey et al. 2011). This showed that obesity is associated with a two-fold increased risk of dementia and a 60% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. What was surprising is that this effect was only detectable for obesity in middle age but not old age. This might suggest that the obesity only has an adverse effects on brain health earlier in life and that this effect fades at older ages. This is unlikely because a number of animal studies have shown that the biological mechanisms linking obesity with brain pathology do not disappear with older age but in fact appear to increase. Moreover, human studies show that thinking abilities decline faster in obese individuals. An alternative explanation is that human epidemiological studies investigating this question in older individuals include participants who do not have clinical dementia but in whom the disease is developing. Since dementia and Alzheimer’s disease pathology is associated with weight loss it is possible that estimated effects in humans have been confounded by this issue. Another possible confounder is that older people tend to lose muscle mass (sarcopenia) this may lead to the paradoxical condition in aging where a person has a normal weight but has excessive fat mass. Since it is fat tissue that is linked to risk to cerebral health it may have led to the apparently contradictory findings that obesity may not be a risk in older age. It is therefore of great interest to clarify whether obesity in early old age in individuals free of dementia is associated with poorer cerebral health. The hippocampus is one of the structures most sensitive stressors. Because obesity is known to lead to a state of chronic inflammation which is deleterious to the hippocampus, it was a logical structure to investigate. Moreover, the hippocampus is needed for memory function and mood regulation and is directly implicated in the dementia disease process. This study investigated 420 participants in their early 60s taking part in a larger longitudinal study of aging taking place in Canberra, Australia and who underwent up to three brain scans over an 8-year follow-up. These individuals were free of dementia and other neurological disorders. Associations between obesity and shrinkage of the hippocampus were investigated with longitudinal analyses which controlled for major confounders. The main findings were that overweight and obese participants had smaller volume of the hippocampus at the start of the study. In addition, the hippocampus shrunk more in these individuals over the follow-up period. (more…)
Cognitive Issues, Heart Disease / 17.11.2014

Dr. T. Jared Bunch, M.D Medical Director for Heart Rhythm Services Intermountain Healthcare network.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. T. Jared Bunch, M.D Medical Director for Heart Rhythm Services Intermountain Healthcare network. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bunch: Approximately 5 years ago we found that atrial fibrillation was associated with all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.  At that time we did not know the mechanisms behind the association.  One hypothesis that we had was brain injury in patients with atrial fibrillation is in a spectrum, large injuries result in strokes and repetitive small injuries result in dementia.  In this regard, we anticipated that anticoagulation effectiveness and use may impact dementia risk.  Early this year we published in HeartRhythm Journal that atrial fibrillation patients with no history of dementia that have used warfarin, but had high percent times outside of the therapeutic range were much more likely to develop dementia.  We gained some insight from this trial in that we saw much higher risks of the patients were either over or under anticoagulated. Amongst our atrial fibrillation patients using warfarin nearly one third are also taking aspirin, typically due to the presence of coronary artery disease or a prior myocardial infarction. We hypothesized since these patients were using two agents that increase risk of bleed that over anticoagulation with warfarin may be an even great risk for dementia.  This is was we found.  The patients over anticoagulated greater than 30 percent of the time were nearly 2 and a half times more likely to develop dementia compared to those that were over anticoagulated less that 10 percent to the time. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Circadian Rhythm, Cognitive Issues, Metabolic Syndrome, Occupational Health / 04.11.2014

Dr. Philip Tucker Department of Psychology | Yr Adran Seicoleg College of Human and Health Sciences | Coleg y Gwyddorau Dynol ac lechyd Swansea University | Prifysgol Abertawe Singleton Park | Parc Singleton Swansea | Abertawe  Medical Research: What is the background for this stuMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Philip Tucker Department of Psychology | Yr Adran Seicoleg College of Human and Health Sciences | Coleg y Gwyddorau Dynol ac lechyd Swansea University | Prifysgol Abertawe Singleton Park | Parc Singleton Swansea | Abertawe Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Tucker: Shift work, like jet-lag, is known to disrupt workers’ normal circadian rhythms (i.e. their body clocks) and their social life. It is also associated with greater risk of developing ulcers, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, breast cancer and reproductive problems. Several studies have also shown that shift workers experience heightened fatigue and sleepiness, particularly at night, and this may affect job performance and safety. However, very little is known about the long-term consequences of shift work on cognitive abilities. We followed a large sample of shift workers and non-shift workers over 10 years, testing their cognitive performance every 5 years. We found that the shift workers’ cognitive performance was lower than that of the day workers.  The difference was greatest for those who had worked shifts for more than 10 years. The shift workers’ cognitive function recovered after they quit shift work, but this recovery took at least 5 years from time that they stopped working shifts. The effects could not be attributed to poorer sleep quality among shift workers. Rather, it seems likely that the findings reflect the disruption of the shift workers’ circadian rhythms, which as been shown by other researchers to have an impact on brain structures involved in cognition and mental health over the lifespan. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Psychological Science / 30.10.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Lorenza S. Colzato, Assistant Professor and Dominque Lippelt, Research Master Student Cognitive Neuroscience ResearchProgram Leiden, The Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our study aimed to investigate whether prior meditation experience could modulate the effect of two types of meditation on two aspects of creative thought. Creativity can be thought of as consisting of two main ingredients: Convergent thinking (finding one solution to a defined problem) and divergent thinking (finding many possible solutions to a problem). In a previous study we found that Open Monitoring meditation and Focused Attention meditaton (FAM) have distinguishable effects on creativity. OMM induces a control state that promotes divergent thinking while Focused Attention meditaton does not improve convergent thinking. Our results confirm and extend these findings. Open Monitoring meditation improved performance on a divergent thinking task, while Focused Attention meditaton did not, and these effects were present in both experienced and novice practitioners, suggesting that one does not have to have many years of meditation experience to benefit from its effects. However, while solving convergent thinking problems experienced practitioners tended to solve more problems through insight as opposed to using an analytical strategy, a way of problem solving that bears similarities to divergent thinking. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, UCSF / 27.10.2014

Raquel C. Gardner, MD, Research Fellow San Francisco VA Medical Center Clinical Instructor Memory and Aging Center, Department of Neurology University of California, San FranciscoMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Raquel C. Gardner, MD, Research Fellow San Francisco VA Medical Center Clinical Instructor Memory and Aging Center, Department of Neurology University of California, San Francisco Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Gardner: We found that people who experience a  traumatic brain injury (TBI )when they are 55 or older have a 26% higher chance of getting dementia over the next 5 to 7 years compared to people who experience bodily trauma. (more…)
Cognitive Issues, Menopause, Obstructive Sleep Apnea / 22.10.2014

Chitra Lal, MD. Assistant Professor Medical University of South CarolinaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chitra Lal, MD. Assistant Professor Medical University of South Carolina     Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Lal: We studied the prevalence of cognitive problems in early postmenopausal women (age 45-60 years) with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS+) and without obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS-) using a questionnaire called the Mail-In Cognitive Function Screening Instrument (MCFSI). We found that the mean MCFSI scores after adjusting for depression were significantly higher in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome+ then the OSAS- group, indicating more self-reported cognitive difficulty in OSAS+ women (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Radiology / 08.10.2014

Sven Haller, M.D. University of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland. MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sven Haller, M.D. University of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland. Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Haller: The main finding is that some elderly individuals with intact cognitive function at baseline already have visible alterations of the brain perfusion measured in Arterial Spin Labeling (ASL)  MRI, which is similar to patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This elderly individual may initially maintain intact cognitive functions due to the activation of their cognitive reserve, yet eventually the cognitive reserve is exhausted and those individuals develop subtle cognitive decline at follow-up 18 months later. Consequently, Arterial Spin Labeling MRI may predict the very earliest form of cognitive decline. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, General Medicine, Mental Health Research, Neurology / 26.09.2014

Richard J. Kryscio, PhD, Professor Sanders-Brown Center on Aging University of KentuckyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Richard J. Kryscio, PhD, Professor Sanders-Brown Center on Aging University of Kentucky Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Kryscio:  We followed 531 elderly over time assessing their cognition annually; of these 105 (about 20%) eventually were diagnosed with a serious cognitive impairment (either a mild cognitive impairment or a dementia) and 77% of the latter declared a subjective memory complaint prior to the diagnosis of the impairment.  In brief, declaration of a memory problem put a subject at three times the risk of a future impairment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics / 20.08.2014

Neha P. Gothe, PhD Division of Kinesiology Health and Sport Studies Wayne State University Detroit, MI 48202.Medical Research Interview with: Neha P. Gothe, PhD Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies Wayne State University Detroit, MI 48202. Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Gothe: The yoga group was speedier and more accurate on tests of information recall, mental flexibility and task-switching than it had been before the intervention. Participants in the yoga group showed significant improvements in working memory capacity, which involves continually updating and manipulating information. They were also able to perform the task at hand quickly and accurately, without getting distracted. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Stroke / 09.08.2014

Kumar Bharat Rajan, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Internal Medicine Section of Population Sciences Chicago IL 60612MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kumar Bharat Rajan, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Internal Medicine Section of Population Sciences Chicago IL 60612 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the paper? Dr. Rajan: Lower levels of cognitive functioning was associated with incident stroke and the change in cognitive functioning was increased after incident stroke. Cognitive functioning was an independent marker of mortality even after accounting for incident stroke. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Neurology / 25.07.2014

Joe Verghese, MBBS, MS Professor of Neurology and Medicine, Chief, Integrated Divisions of Cognitive & Motor Aging (Neurology) and Geriatrics (Medicine), Director, Resnick Gerontology Center, Murray D Gross Memorial Faculty Scholar in Gerontology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx, NY 10461MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joe Verghese, MBBS, MS Professor of Neurology and Medicine, Chief, Integrated Divisions of Cognitive & Motor Aging (Neurology) and Geriatrics (Medicine),  Director, Resnick Gerontology Center, Murray D Gross Memorial Faculty Scholar in Gerontology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: Motoric Cognitive Risk Syndrome (MCR) is a newly described pre-dementia syndrome that is characterized by presence of slow gait and cognitive complaints in older adults without dementia or mobility disability. In this study, we report that the prevalence of Motoric Cognitive Risk Syndrome was 9.7% in 26,802 adults aged 60 and older from 22 cohort studies based in 17 countries. Presence of Motoric Cognitive Risk Syndrome was also associated with an almost two-fold risk of developing dementia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cognitive Issues / 17.07.2014

Florien Boel MSc VU University Medical Center Department of Medical Psychology Amsterdam, The Netherlands MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Florien Boel MSc VU University Medical Center Department of Medical Psychology Amsterdam, The Netherlands Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: In postmenopausal breast cancer patients, endocrine therapy is widely used, and often for many years on end. Endocrine therapy is thought to have an effect on cognitive functioning, but previous studies have not yet accounted for the possible influence of the diagnosis of cancer and subsequent anxiety, depression or fatigue on cognitive performance. In addition, the cognitive effects of endocrine therapy after long-term use are still mostly unknown. Therefore, we compared cognitive functioning of postmenopausal breast cancer patients who underwent surgery and/or radiotherapy (N=43) with the cognitive performance of women who also received adjuvant endocrine therapy (tamoxifen) (N=20) and a group of healthy matched individuals (N=44). In accordance with the literature, we found that especially cognitive domains that rely heavily on verbal abilities (verbal memory and fluency) seem to be at risk for deterioration during long-term treatment (~2.5 years) with tamoxifen. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Mayo Clinic / 24.06.2014

Prashanthi Vemur, Ph.D. Mayo Clinic Rochester, MinnesotaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prashanthi Vemur, Ph.D. Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota   MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Vemuri: Lifetime intellectual enrichment might delay the onset of cognitive impairment and be used as a successful preventive intervention to reduce the impending dementia epidemic. We studied two non-overlapping components of lifetime intellectual enrichment: education/occupation-score and mid/late-life cognitive activity measure based on self-report questionnaires. Both were helpful in delaying the onset of cognitive impairment but the contribution of higher education/occupation was larger. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Long Term Care / 23.06.2014

Regina Shih PhD Senior Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Regina Shih PhD Senior Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation.   MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Shih: RAND identified 25 high-impact policy options to improve the delivery, workforce, and financing of long term care, with a specific eye toward those with dementia and their caregivers. Undertaking these 25 policy options would achieve five goals: increasing public awareness of dementia and its signs and symptoms; improving access to long-term care; promoting high-quality, person-centered care like that offered at Lakeside Manor; providing better support for family caregivers; and reducing the burden of dementia costs on individuals and their families. Of these 25 policy options, we identified four unique options that have never been identified in any national plan on dementia or long-term care. This is likely because we focused on the intersection between dementia and long-term care, rather than just one or the other. And, rather than only focusing on actions that federal agencies can take, we identified policy options by interviewing 30 different stakeholders in the public and private sectors at the local, state, and national levels. These unique, high-impact policy options have to do with
  • Linking private health insurance with private long-term care insurance;
  • Including home and community-based services in state Medicaid plans;
  • Establishing cross-setting teams focused on returning the person with dementia to the community;
  • Expanding financial compensation to family caregivers.
(more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Heart Disease / 13.06.2014

Evan Thacker PhD Brigham Young UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Evan Thacker PhD Brigham Young University Provo, Utah   MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Thacker: In this study of over 17,000 American adults aged 45 and above, we first measured people’s cardiovascular health based on their smoking habits, diet, physical activity, body weight, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar. We then tracked these people for several years with cognitive function tests which measure memory and thinking abilities. The main finding of our study was that people who had the lowest levels of cardiovascular health at the beginning of the study were more likely to experience cognitive impairment – poor performance on the cognitive function tests – at the end of the study. People who had medium to high levels of cardiovascular health were less likely to experience cognitive impairment. (more…)