Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Subjects at risk of Alzheimer's may now be able to delay the onset of their first symptoms

24.03.2011
The human brain loses 5 to 10% of its weight between the ages of 20 and 90 years old. While some cells are lost, the brain is equipped with two compensatory mechanisms: plasticity and redundancy.

Based on the results of her most recent clinical study published today in the online version of Brain: A Journal of Neurology, Dr. Sylvie Belleville, PhD in neuropsychology, the principal author of this study and Director of Research at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), which is affiliated with the Université de Montréal, has found that for elderly subjects at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, hope may lie in brain plasticity.

"Brain plasticity refers to the brain's remarkable ability to change and reorganize itself. It was long thought that brain plasticity declined with age, however, our study demonstrates that this is not the case, even in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease", declares Sylvie Belleville.

These findings open countless new avenues of research including the possibility of improving the plasticity of affected areas of the brain, and slowing the decline in plasticity through pharmacological means or lifestyle changes, thereby allowing subjects with Alzheimer's disease to enjoy several more symptom-free years.

The hypothesis behind this research was that certain cells traditionally involved in other brain processes could, through a simple memory training program, temporarily take over since they themselves are not yet affected. According to Dr. Belleville: "Our research has validated our hypothesis. Not only were we able to use functional imaging to observe this diversification, but we also noted a 33% increase in the number of correct answers given during a post-training memory task by subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who, incidentally, are ten times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease".

The training program that was used was designed to help elderly subjects with MCI develop strategies, such as the use of mnemonics, for example, and promote encoding and retrieval, such as word lists, for example, using alternative areas of the brain. "The hypothesis had already been raised, but our team was the first to provide scientific support, using a functional neuroimaging protocol", added Sylvie Belleville.

Researchers worked with thirty elderly subjects: 15 healthy adults and 15 with MCI. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to analyse brain activity in the two groups 6 weeks prior to memory training, one week prior to training and one week after training. Before the memory training, magnetic resonance imaging in both the healthy elderly subjects and those with MCI showed activation in areas of the brain traditionally associated with memory. As expected, decreased activation was observed in subjects with MCI. After training, brain areas in elderly subjects with MCI showed increased activation in areas typically associated with memory, but also in new areas of the brain usually associated with language processing, spatial and object memory and skill learning.

According to Dr. Belleville: "Analysis of brain activity during encoding as measured before and after the training program, indicates that increased post-training activation in the right inferior parietal gyrus is associated with post-intervention improvement. The healthy area of the brain has taken over for the area that is compromised."

William Raillant-Clark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umontreal.ca

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>