A decade or more before memory-related symptoms of Alzheimers disease (AD) appear, disordered processes are underway in the brain - including changes that may affect sense of smell. In a study published in Annals of Neurology, researchers gave 183 community-living older adults cognitive tests to assess brain function, followed by tests of their ability to recognize and remember familiar odors, such as leather, menthol and grape.
Increasingly needing to write yourself reminder notes or repeatedly bumping into furniture after rearranging your living room (spatial memory) is frustrating, to say the least. It also may signal future cognitive decline, including dementia, a catch-all term for memory loss and difficulty with thinking, problem-solving or language, the most common of which is Alzheimer's disease.
Q. I keep seeing ads during the nightly news for a supplement containing a protein originally found in jellyfish thats supposed to protect your memory. Could this really work?
While both a Mediterranean-style diet and the DASH eating plan are associated with brain benefits, a hybrid dietary pattern that combines the best of both with the latest cognitive research may protect memory and thinking even better. A new study reports that the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet was associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline-equivalent to 7.5 years of younger age. Those with the highest MIND diet scores were 53% less likely to develop Alzheimers disease than those with the lowest scores.
Physical activity helps preserve mobility and motor skills as you age-and not just by keeping your muscles in shape. A new study suggests that activity also maintains mobility by protecting your brain. Even in people with signs of brain aging called white matter hyperintensities (WMH) associated with movement issues, being more active seemed to allow the brain to compensate.
Another study has shown that aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, boosts your brain-actually increasing the size of the hippocampus, a key part of the inner brain involved in forming, storing and processing memory. When compared to an earlier study of cognitively healthy older adults, moreover, the findings suggest that aerobic exercise offers greatest benefits to those who need it most: people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often a precursor to Alzheimers disease.
A small clinical trial suggests that green tea could improve the connectivity between parts of the brain involved in tasks of working memory. You might think of working memory as the brains sticky notes, where bits of information are temporarily held for manipulation before forgetting or transferring to long-term memory.
I s traffc pollution clouding your brain? Harvard researchers report that a doubling of exposure to black carbon-a marker for pollution from automotive exhaust-was associated with a 30% greater chance of scoring badly on a standard test for dementia. The poorer results, plus lower scores on a composite of six other tests of cognitive function, were the equivalent of adding almost two years to subjects age. Researchers analyzed data on 680 Boston-area men, average age 71, from the VA Normative Aging Study. The in- vestigators said this was the frst study to link traffc-related air pollution and cognition in older men, and only the second study of such a relationship in older adults. Tiny particles in exhaust, researchers suggested, might lodge in the brain, or could cause cardiovascular damage that in turn affects the brain.
Tufts new MyPlate for Older Adults helps you plan your plate-and your life. Last year, the federal government retired its longstanding food pyramid, replacing the familiar icon with a new dietary-guidance symbol
Heres more evidence that eating right is good for your brain-and that a diet low in key nutrients and high in unhealthy fats may actually contribute to cognitive decline with aging. Researchers report that older adults with higher blood levels of the B vitamins, vitamins C, D and E and omega-3s scored better on tests of mental performance and showed healthier brains in MRI scans. But older adults with high levels of trans fats, a sign of an unhealthy diet, scored worse on cognitive tests and had lower brain volume.
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