Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Exercise - Fitness, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 22.10.2019 Interview with: Adam Bohr, PhD Postdoctoral researcher Department of Integrative Physiology University of Colorado Boulder 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…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Genetic Research / 31.07.2019 Interview with: Dr. Amy Dunn, PhD Kaczorowski lab The Jackson Laboratory What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Environmental factors, such as a poor diet, are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. But the mechanisms are complex, and it is not known how such environmental perturbations interact with individual genetic variation to confer disease risk. Previous studies have not adequately addressed how the combination of genetic variant and environmental factors combine to alter cognitive response to a poor diet. To investigate gene-by-environment interactions, we fed either a normal diet or a high-fat diet to a genetically diverse Alzheimer’s disease mouse model population starting at six months of age and monitored metabolic and cognitive function. We observed accelerated working memory decline in the mice on the high-fat diet after eight weeks, with substantial gene-by diet effects on both cognitive and metabolic traits. Metabolic dysfunction was more closely related to cognitive function in mice carrying Alzheimer’s mutations than in those without. Interestingly, the high-fat diet affected metabolic function differently in female versus male mice.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Environmental Risks, Pediatrics, Toxin Research / 12.04.2019 Interview with: Edson R. Severnini PhD Assistant Professor Of Economics And Public Policy Carnegie Mellon University 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, Geriatrics, JAMA, Surgical Research / 17.10.2018 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 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…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics, Kidney Disease, Salt-Sodium / 11.02.2018 Interview with: Dr. Kristen L. Nowak PhD Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Aurora, CO 80045 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Genetic Research, JAMA, Medical Imaging, Mental Health Research / 25.01.2018 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 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.  (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Lifestyle & Health / 20.12.2017 Interview with: “Exercise” by Diabetes Education Events is licensed under CC BY 2.0Michelle Brasure, MSPH, PhD, MLIS Evidence-based Practice Center School of Public Health University of Minnesota 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Multiple Sclerosis, NYU / 01.03.2017 Interview with: Leigh E. Charvet, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Neurology Department of Neurology New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY What is the background for transcranial direct current stimulation? What are the main findings of this study in multiple sclerosis patients? Response: The application of tDCS is a relatively recent therapeutic development that utilizes low amplitude direct currents to induce changes in cortical excitability. When paired with a rehabilitation activity, it may improve learning rates and outcomes. Multiple repeated sessions are needed for both tDCS and cognitive training sessions to see a benefit. Because it is not feasible to have participants come to clinic daily for treatments, we developed a method to deliver tDCS paired with cognitive training (using computer-based training games) to patients at home. Our protocol uses a telemedicine platform with videoconferencing to assist study participants with all the procedures and to ensure safety and consistency across treatment sessions. When testing our methods, we enrolled 25 participants with multiple sclerosis (MS) completed 10 sessions of tDCS (2.0 mA x 20 minutes, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, left anodal) using the remotely-supervised telerehabilitation protocol. This group was compared to n=20 MS participants who completed 10 sessions of cognitive training only (also through remote supervision). We administered cognitive testing measures at baseline and study end. We found that both the tDCS and cognitive training only group had similar and slight improvements on composites of standard neuropsychological measures and basic attention. However, the tDCS group had a significantly greater gain on computer-based measures of complex attention and on a measure of intra-individual variability in response times. (more…)
Anesthesiology, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Columbia, JAMA, Pediatrics / 08.06.2016 Interview with: Lena S. Sun, MD E. M. Papper Professor of Pediatric Anesthesiology Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology Chief, Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology Columbia University Medical Center New York, New York 10032 What is the background for this study? Dr. Sun: The background for the study is as follow: There is robust evidence in both rodent and non-human primate studies that exposure of the developing brain leads to impairment in cognitive function and behavior later in life. The evidence from human studies derives mostly from retrospective studies and the results have been mixed. Some have demonstrated anesthesia in early childhood was associated with impaired neurocognitive function, while others have found no such association. Our study is the first to specifically designed to address the question of effects of general anesthesia exposure on cognitive function, comparing exposure with no exposure. (more…)
Aging, Alzheimer's - Dementia, Antioxidants, Author Interviews, Nutrition, Supplements / 04.06.2016 Interview with: Jennifer Lemon, PhD Research Associate Medical Radiation Sciences McMaster University What is the background for this study? Dr. Lemon: Research with the supplement began in 2000, as part of my doctoral degree; we developed the supplement to try to offset the severe cognitive deterioration and accelerated aging in a mouse model we were working with in the lab. Based on aging research, five mechanisms appeared to be key contributors to the process of aging; those include oxidative stress, inflammation, mitochondrial deterioration, membrane dysfunction and impaired glucose metabolism. The criteria we used for including components in the supplement were as follows: each one of the 30 components had scientific evidence to show they acted on one or more of the above mechanisms were able to be taken orally, and were available to humans over-the-counter. Even then the hope was that if the formulation was successful, this would make it more available to the general public. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Lifestyle & Health / 18.05.2016 Interview with: Christian Benedict Ph.D Dept. of Neuroscience Uppsala University, Sweden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Benedict: A considerably large proportion of today’s workforce performs shift work. Both epidemiological and experimental studies have demonstrated that shift workers are at an increased risk for multiple diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases. However, knowledge regarding short- and long-term effects of shift work on parameters of brain health is still fragmentary. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Heart Disease / 18.03.2016 Interview with: Hannah Gardener, ScD Department of Neurology, Miller School of Medicine University of Miami Miami, FL What is the background for this study? Response: At the beginning of the study, 1,033 participants in the Northern Manhattan Study (average age 72; 65 percent Hispanic, 19 percent black and 16 percent white), were categorized using the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple Seven®” definition of cardiovascular health, which includes tobacco avoidance, ideal levels of weight, physical activity, healthy diet, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose. The participants were tested for memory, thinking and brain processing speed. Brain processing speed measures how quickly a person is able to perform tasks that require focused attention. Approximately six years later, 722 participants repeated the cognitive testing, which allowed us to measure performance over time. The cardiovascular health factors, which have been shown to predict risk of stroke and myocardial infarction, were then examined in relation to cognitive performance and impairment over time. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Weight Research / 16.12.2015 Interview with: Dr Anne Martin PhD Research Associate/Research Fellow Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC) Institute for Sport, PE & Health Sciences University of Edinburgh TeleScot Research Group Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics Edinburgh Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Martin: Impairments in cognitive development during childhood can have detrimental effects on health behaviour, educational attainment, and socio-economic status later in life. Epidemiological evidence indicates an association between childhood obesity and cognition and educational attainment. Knowledge of when obesity related deficits in cognition and attainment emerge, and how large the deficits are at various ages, may be useful to support arguments for school-based obesity prevention initiatives and in translating evidence on this topic into policy aimed at preventing obesity. In this study we explored whether the adverse association between obesity and cognition emerges in early childhood. Measures of cognitive abilities included visuo-spatial skills, expressive language skills and reasoning skills. Our findings indicated that obesity in the pre-school years may be weakly associated with some poorer cognitive outcomes at age 5 years in boys, independently of socioeconomic status. Stronger relationships between obesity and cognition or educational attainment may emerge later in childhood. Evidence from an English cohort study suggested an adverse association between obesity in teenage girls and lower academic attainment in Mathmatics, Science and English. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Exercise - Fitness, JAMA, Lifestyle & Health / 02.12.2015 Interview with: Tina Hoang MSPH Staff Research Associate Northern California Institute for Research and Education, Veterans Affairs Medical Center Dr. Kristine Yaffe MD Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology University of California San Francisco, CA  94121 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We assessed physical activity and TV watching in young adults over 25 years to see if there was an association with cognitive function in middle age.  Most previous studies have only considered this association in older adults. We found that both low physical activity and high TV watching over time were associated with worse cognitive function. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Cognitive Issues, Mental Health Research / 16.09.2015

Daniela Carnevale, PhD, Researcher Laboratory of Giuseppe Lembo, MD, PhD Dept. of Molecular Medicine "Sapienza" University of Rome & Dept. of Angiocardioneurology and Translational Medicine IRCCS Neuromed - Technology Park Località Interview with: Daniela Carnevale, PhD, Researcher Laboratory of Giuseppe Lembo, MD, PhD Dept. of Molecular Medicine "Sapienza" University of Rome & Dept. of Angiocardioneurology and Translational Medicine IRCCS Neuromed - Technology Park Località Camerelle Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Carnevale: Nowadays, one of the most demanding challenge in medicine is preserving cognitive functions during aging. It is well known that cardiovascular risk factors have a profound impact on the possibility of developing dementia with aging. However, we have no means to investigate this aspect in patients with cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, although we have clear clinical paradigms to explore target organ damage of vascular diseases like hypertension, we are less prepared to afford the brain damage that may result from chronic vascular diseases and impact on cognitive functions. Thus, we aimed at finding a diagnostic paradigm to assess brain damage that could predict for future development of dementia. Since it is becoming increasingly clear that hypertension may determine cognitive decline, even before manifest neurodegeneration, we elaborated a paradigm of analysis that are essentially focused on brain imaging and cognitive assessment. In particular, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) on magnetic resonance that allows to reconstruct white matter connections that correlate with selective cognitive functions, and specifics tests for the evaluation of subtle alterations of cognitive functions. (more…)
Cognitive Issues, Sleep Disorders / 30.11.2014

Daniel Sternberg PhD. Data Scientist at 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, 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 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, Pediatrics / 03.10.2014

Sara Sammallahti, MA Institute of Behavioral Sciences University of Helsinki, Finland. Interview, Sara Sammallahti, MA Institute of Behavioral Sciences University of Helsinki, Finland.   Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: Not only did we find that faster growth right after preterm birth is associated with better neurocognitive abilities - we also showed that these effects persist into adulthood, that they are seen across a wide spectrum of abilities, and that head growth very early on seems especially relevant in predicting long-term outcomes. These associations were found when we examined 103 young adults who were born prematurely and with very low birth weight (under 1500 grams). (more…)