Neuroimaging is one of the most promising research areas for detection of the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Using neuroimaging together with proteomics, researchers report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that a blood test may reflect the levels of beta amyloid protein in the brain — a hallmark of the disease . The findings may eventually lead to a blood test that helps to predict the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
As we get older, and care for our parents as they get older, the most feared age-related conditions we face are arguably Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. But researchers at Washington University have just shown that at least we don’t have to fear both of them at the same time; they recently published a paper in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s disease have a significantly reduced risk of being hospitalized for cancer .
This potential link between these two diseases had been noted for some time, but in this study researchers devoted considerable effort to overcoming the limitations in their previous work. Firstly, they used a population-based sample of 3,020 people older than 65, so their results were not limited to a particular geographic area or socio-economic segment of society. Secondly, they used hospital records rather than informant reports to quantify cancer diagnoses. This controlled for the risk that people with Alzheimer’s disease may be less likely to report their cancers than those without. And lastly, to ensure that they were not seeing less cancer in Alzheimer’s patients because physicians were less likely to look for cancer in people with dementia, or because people with dementia simply die earlier than those without it and thereby avoid cancer, they also looked at cancer risk among people with vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is not neurodegenerative in origin; rather, it results from brain damage due to vascular pathology.
The ability to multitask and mentally juggle multiple demands is essential in today’s fast-paced world. At the same time, we’re bombarded with information that can both distract and overload our focus and attention.
Many of us need a caffeine “boost” in the morning or throughout the day to maintain mental focus. However, drinking too much coffee or tea leaves you feeling like you need to do a couple of laps around the building.
And although coffee consumption offers a number of potential health benefits, many of us drink more than enough of it on a daily basis. Energy drinks are an alternative option. However, their effects on cognitive performance are principally related to the presence of caffeine .
Enter Brain Toniq
Brain Toniq bills itself as the world’s first and only botanical-based, non-caffeinated functional “think drink”, specifically designed to increase mental focus, function and clarity. According to the Brain Toniq website:
Formulated out of plant extracts and natural compounds, the ingredients in Brain Toniq have a long, proven history for their effects on increasing brain power and cognition.
I’d previously heard about Brain Toniq and was intrigued at the idea of an energy drink designed to increase cognitive performance. Additionally, the Brain Toniq website references peer-reviewed research studies that examine many of the ingredients. When I contacted the company, they were kind enough to send me a sample to review.
At Neuroscience 2008, the 38th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience held last month in Washington D.C., a number of researchers presented evidence that a small, soluble, clustered form of a protein called amyloid beta may be responsible for brain damage in Alzheimer’s disease patients . In addition, scientists report that they are finding new sources and uses of neural stem cells that may replace cells damaged by neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease .
photo credit: neurollero
Why are these reports significant? Because until recently, large insoluble amyloid beta plaques, or deposits, were considered the likely cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The plaques were thought to disrupt brain cell communication. However, new findings show that an early (i.e. small), soluble, clustered form of amyloid beta called protofibrils is found in high levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease . Researchers also found a strong correlation between the presence of high levels of protofibrils in the brains of transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease and the cognitive impairments associated with the disease.
The first high-resolution structural connection map of the human cerebral cortex was published earlier this month in the journal PLoS Biology. The study reveals regions that are highly connected and central, forming a structural core network . Intriguingly, this core network consists of many areas that are more active when we’re at rest than when we’re engaged in a task that requires concentration.