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 A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells
13.12.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht Research reveals how diabetes in pregnancy affects baby's heart
13.12.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>