Archive | June, 2012

Brain Research Breakthroughs: Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Dementia Breakthroughs

28 Jun

It has been a great week to be a brain research nerd interested in cognitive function and disease!   Here is a quick re-cap of a few of the recent findings and a link or 2 in case you, like me, just need to know more!Parkinson's Disease brain comparison

  • A Swedish research group studying Parkinson’s Disease (PD), published a break-through study recently in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.  This research group expanded and verified some facts about how the disease spreads from cell to cell in the brain.   This could lead to treatment that might slow the disease progression and keep symptoms at bay!   PD, formerly known as shaking palsy, is a progressive disease that is routed in the nervous system and is tied to brain cells that produce the chemical dopamine.   There is some great PD research happening all over the world.  The hope is to move beyond controlling symptoms to finding the root of disease and a cure.

* Here is a link to the actual research article:   http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0039465

** Here is a link to a summary of the findings by the organization that helped fund the research:http://www.vai.org/News/News/2012/06_27_ParkinsonsDrug.aspxNeuron Death

  • Another research group in a Swedish University is looking at how and why Alzheimer ’s disease (AD) spreads in the brain, leaving a trail of dead neurons and protein build up in its wake.   The study sites the discovery of 2 abnormal proteins that seem to build up and contribute to both neuron death and brain shrinkage.  “Why they become abnormal is still unknown, but what is known is that it’s not the large accumulations, or plaques, that damage the neurons”, the study states.   This new understanding could open new avenues for treatment of disease progression.

*  Here is a link to a summary of the research by Linkoping University, the home of the research: http://www.liu.se/forskning/forskningsnyheter/1.352091?l=en

  • Dementia is such a key element of many diseases of the brain.  It encompasses so many functional qualities that it is really hard to get a handle on how to accurately diagnose the condition.   A German researcher with a bit of help from a US based research group found a link between dementia and a malfunctioning immune system.   These are the early days in this line of inquiry but further research could lead to diagnostic methods and potentially new treatment methods – both would be a huge leap in the field!

* Here is a link to a summary of the findings in Science Daily:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120622163511.htm

We  are always on the prowl for new discoveries so please pass along any news you see that we might have missed!

Weekly Brain Games: Wednesday’s Word Challenge

28 Jun

Word games are excellent ways to fit in a brain workout!   People have been playing paper and pencil word games like crossword puzzles, hangman,  and acrostics for centuries.   The first published crossword puzzle showed up in 1890 in an Italian magazine and the first example of this same type of puzzle appeared in the US in the New York World in 1913.

The following is a word game we call Word Sequences.    Playing Word Sequences will help you with some thinking tasks many of us struggle.  You will work on skills that help with word finding and recall while practicing putting items in order, following patterns, filling in the blanks, and remembering words and meanings in categories.

Here is how you play.   Start with the top 2 lines.   Move letters from the top word down to the lines below.   Then use the clue on the side to fill in the circles and complete the word!  Here is a sample:

Wednesday's word game

Try this one on your own.   It is a bit more difficult because the words don’t line up and word length varies!  Same idea — move the letters down on to the lines and fill in the circles using the clue to complete the word!

Word game word sequences

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