The Mystery Of Cognitive Decline: Why Only Some People Age Gracefully (M)

From education to cognitive reserve, discover the key factors that slow down cognitive decline as we age.

From education to cognitive reserve, discover the key factors that slow down cognitive decline as we age.


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Dementia And Death Linked To This Widespread Vitamin Deficiency (M)

Blood levels of this vitamin should be routinely monitored as deficiency is linked to dementia and early death.

Blood levels of this vitamin should be routinely monitored as deficiency is linked to dementia and early death.


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Study Exposes The Hidden Cause Of The Worst Alzheimer’s Symptoms (M)

The unforeseen impact of the brain’s immune cells on the most perplexing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The unforeseen impact of the brain's immune cells on the most perplexing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.


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These Sleep Patterns Are Linked To 50% Increased Dementia Risk & Memory Loss (M)

Are you sleeping right? How your sleep patterns might shape your cognitive destiny.

Are you sleeping right? How your sleep patterns might shape your cognitive destiny.


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This Lively Pursuit Beats Cycling And Walking To Keep Your Brain Young

This pursuit slows and can even reverse age-related physical and mental decline.

This pursuit slows and can even reverse age-related physical and mental decline.

Dancing keeps your brain young, research finds.

Compared with exercise like cycling and Nordic walking, dancing has more profound effects.

Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study, said:

“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity.

In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age.

In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.”

Hippocampus boost

People in the study had an average age of 68.

For 18 months, they either went to weekly dance classes or they had endurance and flexibility training.

Brain scans revealed the exercise was beneficial for both groups, but the dancing gave a bigger boost.

The hippocampus — the area linked to memory — increased in size.

The endurance program was quite repetitive, with a lot of Nordic walking and cycling.

Dr Rehfeld said the dancing was different:

“We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance).

Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process.

The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor.”

Dancing is challenging

The extra challenge linked to learning to dance is thought to be the cause of the extra benefit.

Dr Rehfeld said:

“Right now, we are evaluating a new system called “Jymmin” (jamming and gymnastic).

This is a sensor-based system which generates sounds (melodies, rhythm) based on physical activity.

We know that dementia patients react strongly when listening to music.

We want to combine the promising aspects of physical activity and active music making in a feasibility study with dementia patients.”

Dr Rehfeld concluded:

“I believe that everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible.

Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this, counteracting several risk factors and slowing down age-related decline.

I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (Rehfeld et al., 2017).

These Supplements Slow Cognitive Decline By 60%

Participants who took the supplements for three years had brains that were almost two years younger.

Participants who took the supplements for three years had brains that were almost two years younger.

Taking a daily multivitamin slows cognitive decline by 60 percent, a study shows.

Participants who took the multivitamin for three years had brains that were almost two years younger.

The multivitamin was particularly useful for those suffering from cardiovascular disease.

People with cardiovascular disease are at a higher risk of cognitive impairment.

Professor Laura D. Baker, the study’s first author, said:

“There’s an urgent need for safe and affordable interventions to protect cognition against decline in older adults.”

The conclusions come from a study of over 2,000 people aged over 65.

The study tested the effects of a multivitamin versus a control group, as well as cocoa extract.

Professor Baker explained the results:

“Our study showed that although cocoa extract did not affect cognition, daily multivitamin-mineral supplementation resulted in statistically significant cognitive improvement.

This is the first evidence of cognitive benefit in a large longer-term study of multivitamin supplementation in older adults.”

There are several micronutrients that are required for healthy body and brain function that may be deficient in older adults.

This might explain the study’s findings.

Professor Baker, though, was cautious:

“It’s too early to recommend daily multivitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline.

While these preliminary findings are promising, additional research is needed in a larger and more diverse group of people.

Also, we still have work to do to better understand why the multivitamin might benefit cognition in older adults.”

The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Baker et al., 2022).

2 Personality Traits That Protect Against Dementia (M)

Some people who have quite extensive damage to their brains from dementia can continue to function well, perhaps because of these personality traits.

Some people who have quite extensive damage to their brains from dementia can continue to function well, perhaps because of these personality traits.

People who score highly on the personality traits of extraversion and conscientiousness are less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, a study finds.

However, those who are neurotic are at an increased risk of a dementia diagnosis.

Experiencing more negative emotions was also linked by the research to a higher risk of dementia, while positive emotions lowered the risk.

The theory is that personality and the emotions make people more or less resilient against dementia by influencing behaviour.

Signs of pathology

The conclusions come from a review of 8 separate studies including over 44,000 people.

The study looked at markers of neurodegeneration in the brain, explained Dr Eileen Graham, study co-author:

“We’ve seen in previous research that if someone is higher in neuroticism, they have higher odds of being clinically diagnosed with dementia, whereas those higher in conscientiousness have lower odds of developing dementia.

However, those clinical diagnoses are typically based on assessments of cognition.

We wondered how personality traits might be related to clinically diagnosed dementia compared to dementia based on neuropathology markers assessed at autopsy.”

They found that while personality was linked to dementia risk, it was not explained by any signs of pathology in the brain.

Dr Emorie Beck, the study’s first author, said:

“This was the most surprising finding to us.

If personality is predictive of performance on cognitive tests but not pathology, what might be happening?”

Withstanding dementia

A probable explanation is that some personality traits help people withstand the onset of dementia better than others.

For example, conscientious people are more likely to take care of their health, including eating well.

Perhaps the higher sociability of extraverted people also helps protect them against dementia.

Some people who have quite extensive damage to their brains from dementia may continue to function well because of these personality traits.

It may be possible to target personality traits to reduce dementia risk, said Dr Graham:

“Neuroticism is related to dementia decline, and people with neuroticism are more prone to anxiousness, moodiness and worry whereas conscientious people are more likely to exercise, make and go to preventive health appointments and drink less.

So maybe that’s where an intervention might be useful to improve someone’s health behaviors for better health outcomes.”

No other factors, including gender, age or education explained the link between dementia risk and personality, said Dr Beck:

“We found almost no evidence for effects, except that conscientiousness’s protective effect increased with age.”

Related

The study was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Beck et al., 2023).