Dementia in the News

For years, neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai has been unraveling the brain circuits that underlie memory, searching for approaches that might be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. In 2007, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist identified an experimental drug that could restore lost memories in mice. Lately, she has been wondering whether that kind of drug might be useful to help people forget traumatic events that cause fear and anxiety.

Two thick blankets wrapped in a cloth tie lay near a single pillow on the red leather sofa in Phuong Lu’s living room. Doanh Nguyen, Ms. Lu’s 81-year-old mother, had prepared the blankets for a trip she wanted to take. “She’s ready to go to Vietnam,” Ms. Lu said.

But Ms. Nguyen would not be leaving. The doors were all locked from the inside to prevent her from going anywhere — not to the coating of snow that had fallen that day outside Ms. Lu’s suburban Philadelphia home, and certainly not to her home country, Vietnam.

Martin J. Walsh walked in the door to visit his grandmother at her Irish farmhouse, and she did not know who he was.

Mary Ann O’Malley did not remember her own daughter, either. By the time she had reached her early 80s, O’Malley had forgotten much of what she once knew intimately.

“We would walk in the house,” Walsh said in an interview, “and she would ask who we were.”

New studies suggest that novel [18F] ligands used with positron emission tomography (PET) may shed important light on the neural basis of memory impairment in the preclinical stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD).

It was the annual Labor Day tradition for the Savini family, a makeshift version of The Gong Show performed before the neighborhood on a wooden deck stage at their beach house in Massachusetts. In past years, Nicole Savini’s mom and friends dressed up in nightgowns as the housewives version of The Supremes, singing “Stop in the Name of Love” into wooden spoons.

Deanna Barch talks fast, as if she doesn’t want to waste any time getting to the task at hand, which is substantial. She is one of the researchers here at Washington University working on the first interactive wiring diagram of the living, working human brain.

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook and Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to discuss the major medical stories of the week.

Residents of this facility for people with Alzheimer’s disease toss around a yellow ball and laugh under a cascade with their caregivers, in a swimming pool ringed by palm trees and wind chimes. Susanna Kuratli, once a painter of delicate oils, swims a lap and smiles.

Watching is her husband, Ulrich, who has a heart-rending decision: to leave his wife of 41 years in this facility 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) from home, or to bring her back to Switzerland.

A new study suggests that a history of concussion involving at least a momentary loss of consciousness may be related to the buildup of Alzheimer's-associated plaques in the brain. The research is published in the Dec. 26, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

New findings provide insight into the damage caused by mild traumatic brain injury and suggest approaches for reducing its harmful effects.

Nationwide, at least 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 75% of these are concussions or other mild forms of traumatic brain injury.

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