Dementia in the News

Harvard Gazette (November 4, 2015): Neurons Reprogrammed in Animals

Publication Date: 
Wed, 11/04/2015

Building on earlier work in which they disproved neurobiology dogma by “reprogramming” neurons - turning one form of neuron into another - in the brains of living animals, Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers have now shown that the networks of communication among reprogrammed neurons and their neighbors can also be changed, or “rewired.”

MIT News (October 29, 2015): To Locate Objects, Brain Relies on Memory

Publication Date: 
Thu, 10/29/2015

Imagine you are looking for your wallet on a cluttered desk. As you scan the area, you hold in your mind a mental picture of what your wallet looks like.

MIT neuroscientists have now identified a brain region that stores this type of visual representation during a search. The researchers also found that this region sends signals to the parts of the brain that control eye movements, telling individuals where to look next.

Harvard Gazette (October 29, 2015): Lessons of the Brain: The Phineas Gage Story

Publication Date: 
Thu, 10/29/2015

magine the modern-day reaction to a news story about a man surviving a three-foot, 17-inch, 13½-pound iron bar being blown through his skull - taking a chunk of his brain with it.

Then imagine that this happened in 1848, long before modern medicine and neuroscience. That was the case of Phineas Gage.

Whether the Vermont construction foreman, who was laying railroad track and using explosives at the time of the industrial accident, was lucky or unlucky is a judgment that Warren Anatomical Museum curator Dominic Hall puzzles over to this day.

NIH (October 27, 2015): Health Care Costs for Dementia Found Geater than for Any Other Disease

Publication Date: 
Tue, 10/27/2015

In the last five years of life, total health care spending for people with dementia was more than a quarter-million dollars per person, some 57 percent greater than costs associated with death from other diseases, including cancer and heart disease. The new analysis, appearing in the Oct. 27, 2015, online issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, estimates that total health care spending was $287,000 for those with probable dementia and $183,000 for other Medicare beneficiaries in the study.

Boston Globe (October 18, 2015): Efforts Spread to Aid Dementia Sufferers

Publication Date: 
Sun, 10/18/2015

Sheriff Chris Caulk was frightened.

He couldn’t see, at least not well enough to read or orient himself, and his feet ached from the popcorn kernels rattling around inside his socks. The oven mitts on his hands made it hard for him to grasp anything.

Caulk, who patrols in rural Isanti County, Minn., was experiencing something of what it is like to be elderly and suffer from dementia - and he was taken aback by how vulnerable he felt.

“My mind was clear, but my body wouldn’t let me do [things],” Caulk said. “It must be extremely scary.”

Forbes (October 24, 2015): Study: Early Alzheimer's Clues Appear In The Brain's Internal GPS

Publication Date: 
Sat, 10/24/2015

Alzheimer’s researchers have uncovered a surprising clue linked to whether someone is likely to develop the disease later in life. A study published in the latest issue of Science finds that the brains of people at greatest genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s show less activity in a network of neurons that serve as our internal navigation system – known as “grid cells.”

Harvard Gazette (October 23, 2015): The Future of Old

Publication Date: 
Fri, 10/23/2015

The Gray Wave. The Silver Tsunami. The Agequake.

Aging societies have been on the horizon for decades, not just in the United States but also around the world. The driving forces are well-established: falling fertility rates (by far, the most important factor), longer life expectancy, and the maturing of large cohorts such as the baby boomers in the U.S.

MIT News (October 8, 2015): Analyzing Protein Structures in their Native Environment

Publication Date: 
Fri, 10/09/2015

Proteins can fold in different ways depending on their environment. These different configurations change the function of the protein; misfolding is frequently associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Boston Globe (October 8, 2015): People with Alzheimer’s Press for Answers

Publication Date: 
Thu, 10/08/2015

They’ve heard the stark facts, that every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease, that the numbers of Americans with the illness may nearly triple by 2050, that there still is no cure.

But this is what many in the gathering Wednesday at Massachusetts General Hospital wanted to know: What are researchers doing to help the millions of people living with the brain-robbing illness right now? Is anyone paying attention to their intense feelings of isolation, and of being shunned?

MIT News (October 6, 2015): Predicting Change in the Alzheimer’s Brain

Publication Date: 
Tue, 10/06/2015

MIT researchers are developing a computer system that uses genetic, demographic, and clinical data to help predict the effects of disease on brain anatomy.

In experiments, they trained a machine-learning system on MRI data from patients with neurodegenerative diseases and found that supplementing that training with other patient information improved the system’s predictions. In the cases of patients with drastic changes in brain anatomy, the additional data cut the predictions’ error rate in half, from 20 percent to 10 percent.

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