Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

For sufferers of an early-onset dementia, career choice may determine location of disease in brain

23.09.2010
In an international study of patients with a devastating type of dementia that often strikes in middle age, researchers have found intriguing evidence that career choice may influence where the disease takes root in the brain.

The study was led by Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute in collaboration with the Memory and Aging Centre at the University of California, San Francisco and several U.S. and European clinical sites. It appears online today in the Article in Press section of the journal Neuropsychologia, ahead of publication.

Researchers conducted a multi-centre, retrospective chart review of brain imaging and occupation data from 588 patients diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), sometimes referred to as frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Among the dementias affecting those 65 years and younger, FTLD is as common as Alzheimer's disease. Like Alzheimer's, it is progressive and fatal. Unlike Alzheimer's, which tends to affect both sides of the brain equally, FTLD often manifests on either the left or the right side of the brain, then becomes more widespread as the disease progresses. Typical symptoms include changes in personality and behaviour, and a decline in language skills.

For this study, each patient's occupation was rated with scores derived from an occupation database published by the U.S. Department of Labor. The scores indicated the skills required for the occupation, including verbal, physical and visuospatial skills. For example, a school principal would receive a higher rating for verbal skills than for visuospatial skills, whereas a flight engineer would show the opposite pattern. Both of these professions would score lower on physical skills than a firefighter.

The researchers correlated each patient's occupation scores with the location of brain tissue loss as determined from brain imaging results. They found that patients with professions rated highly for verbal skills, such as school principals, had greater tissue loss on the right side of the brain, whereas those rated low for verbal skills, such as flight engineers, had greater tissue loss on the left side of the brain. This effect was expressed most clearly in the temporal lobes of the brain.

"The disease appeared to attack the side of the brain that was the least used in the patient's professional life," said Dr. Nathan Spreng, who conducted the study as a psychology graduate student at Baycrest and is now a post doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.

The brain's left hemisphere, particularly the temporal lobe, is specialized for language and verbal skills. In occupations ranked highly for verbal skills, tens of thousands of hours of applying these skills may build reserve capacity by strengthening connections in the brain's left hemisphere, making it more resistant to damage due to FTLD, suggested Dr. Spreng. This process may also make the right hemisphere, which is less concerned with verbal tasks, more vulnerable to dementia through disuse.

Yet the researchers could not rule out an alternative explanation. "There may be an undetected functional impairment related to FTLD in these patients that biases them toward a certain career path decades before they get sick," said Dr. Brian Levine of the Rotman Research Institute and senior author on the study.

What is common to both explanations is that the patients' selection and practice of an occupation early in life was related to their brain changes later in life. The authors cautioned that the results were limited to FTLD and may not hold for other brain diseases or conditions.

There is no evidence that someone with a particularly verbal or non-verbal profession is vulnerable to brain disease. However, if that person were to develop FTLD (affecting approximately 250,000 Americans and 25,000 Canadians a year), the location of the disease may relate to occupational practice. Further research will be needed to determine how strong a predictor occupation may be for hemispheric localization of the disease.

FTLD patient data for this study was collected from nine neurology clinics in Canada, the U.S., Germany and the U.K. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Kelly Connelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.baycrest.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>