Posts Tagged dementia

[BLOG POST] Stroke, Brain Injury, and Dementia: is there a link?

Experiencing a stroke or a brain injury is a huge, life-altering event. But even after the rehab, the outpatient therapy, and the lifestyle modifications, there can be another fear- will having a stroke or brain injury lead to dementia in the future?

In this article

dementia definition

What is the link between stroke/brain injury and dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for a collection of cognitive and communicative deficits. Memory loss, executive functioning deficits, communication impairments and challenging behavior are the hallmarks of a dementia diagnosis. This can be extremely difficult for the person and their family, who have already endured a stroke or brain injury.

The link between stroke/brain injury and dementia is clear. Dementia affects 50 million people worldwide, and studies show that people who sustain an injury to the brain are twice as likely to develop dementia post-injury.

Both stroke and dementia can cause brain atrophy, disrupting brain cell connections and communication.

Why might a stroke or brain injury lead to dementia?

Why certain injury to the brain can cause dementia in older age is not always clear, though there are many working theories.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, estimated to affect 5.5 million people in America today. AD accounts for between 60-80% of all cases of dementia, and is caused by an abnormal buildup of proteins in the brain, which interrupt and disrupt the messages being sent within the brain itself.

Some research shows that injury to the blood-brain-barrier, a membrane that selectively filters nutrients from the bloodstream into the brain, has a strong link to subsequent development of Alzheimer’s. The blood brain barrier can be damaged by hypoxia- oxygen deprivation that may be caused by a blockage- or by a traumatic brain injury.

Vascular dementia (VD), the second most commonly experienced dementia, is a step-wise decline in function as a result of several strokes. Strokes often cause temporary or long-lasting damage to the tissues in the brain, and the amount of recovery to these tissues may vary. When multiple strokes or brain injuries occur, the brain is not be able to heal fully, in time leading to VD.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), is a brain condition associated with multiple blows to the head and sometimes experienced by football players, boxers, or those with repeated falls. CTE has been linked with early onset of dementia, likely owing to some of the reasons above- non-healing injuries, and disruption to the BBB leading to accumulations of protein tangles in the brain.

dementia Alzheimer's brain cells
From left to right: a healthy neuron (brain cell), a neuron with amyloid plaque buildup as seen in Alzheimer’s disease, and a dead neuron being digested by microglia cells.

Who is at risk of developing dementia post-stroke?

The incidence of those who develop dementia after a stroke or brain injury is estimated to be about two-fold of those in the general population. The risk factors that may make someone more susceptible to dementia include:

  • a Hemorrhagic versus Ischemic stroke (a bleed versus a blockage). This may be linked to the diffuse nature of a bleed, and the possible disruption of the blood-brain-barrier.
  • a stroke occurring at a younger age; regardless of type of stroke, people who sustain a stroke at a younger age are at an increased risk of developing dementia over the course of their lifespan.

Persons are also at the highest risk of dementia one year post-injury. After the one year mark, the increased risk persists across all types of stroke/brain injury, but at lower levels than before.

What can be done to reduce the risk of developing dementia?

Decreasing the risk of developing dementia when a stroke or brain injury has occurred is all about working on brain health and recovery. Keeping the brain healthy and allowing the damaged tissues to repair to their fullest extent may delay or even arrest later development of dementia.

The gold standard of dementia risk reduction includes physical activity, healthy living, cognitive engagement, and taking control of the reasons that a stroke or brain injury may have occurred in the first place.

Physical rehabilitation post-stroke/brain injury is essential to make sure that physical and medical issues are addressed. It is so important to be able to operate at the highest level possible, to live as healthfully as possible, even after a stroke/brain injury. Regular cardiovascular exercise will increase oxygenation in the body, which is necessary to help heal and improve brain health.

Eating more healthfully and avoiding overly fatty and processed foods will also improve brain health. Some research shows supplementation with vitamins, especially Vitamin K and Omega-3s, can help reduce risk of developing dementia.

Challenging your cognition, and maintaining engagement with cognitive tasks will also help to strengthen your brain. The process of learning may increase neural connections in the brain, essential for communication, memory, and other cognitive functions.

Meditation and mindfulness has been shown to increase grey matter in the brain, unequivocally improving cognition and brain health.

Resources for those at risk

Family conflict abounds in the diagnosis of dementia- seek out support groups through the Alzheimer’s Association.

Looking for cognitive solutions for someone with a stroke, brain injury or dementia? Check out Neofect Cognition and the Neofect Smart Pegboard.

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[Abstract] Exergames in people with major neurocognitive disorder: a systematic review

Purpose

To systematically evaluate the efficacy of exergames in individuals with major neurocognitive disorder.

Materials and methods

PubMed, EMBASE and PEDro were systematically searched from inception until October 2019 for randomised and clinical controlled trials. Methodological quality of the trials was assessed with the PEDro rating scale or Risk of Bias in Nonrandomised Studies of Interventions-I (ROBINS-I), when appropriate. Grading of Recommendations Assessments, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) was used to assess the overall quality of the evidence.

Results

Eight trials, all of moderate to high methodological quality (i.e., PEDro score of 6 or higher or a Robins-I moderate quality score) were included. The overall quality of evidence was moderate to high according to the GRADE criteria. Improvements in gait, mobility and balance and beneficial effects on activities of daily living performance, cognitive function, fear of falls, quality of life and mood following exergaming were reported. Heterogeneity in outcome measures, intervention characteristics and included participants precluded a meta-analysis.

Conclusions

The current literature is of moderate to high quality and demonstrates that exergames have a wide range of physical and mental benefits in people with major neurocognitive disorder. More controlled trials are however needed to confirm the existing evidence before exergames can be recommended in treatment guidelines for people with major neurocognitive disorder.

Implications for rehabilitation

  • Exergames have many physical and mental benefits in people with major neurocognitive disorder

  • Exergaming can enhance gait, mobility and balance in people with major neurocognitive disorder

  • Evidence for beneficial cognitive effects of exergaming is emerging

via Exergames in people with major neurocognitive disorder: a systematic review: Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology: Vol 0, No 0

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[NEWS] Telemedicine may be as effective as in-person visit for people with many neurologic disorders

For people with many neurologic disorders, seeing the neurologist by video may be as effective as an in-person visit, according to a review of the evidence conducted by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). The evidence review examined all available studies on use of telemedicine for several neurologic conditions – stroke being one of the conditions that is well-validated and highly utilizes telemedicine – and is published in the December 4, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the AAN. The results indicate that a diagnosis from a neurologist by video for certain neurologic conditions is likely to be as accurate as an in-person visit.

Telemedicine is the use of video conferencing or other technology for doctor visits from another location. The patient could be at home or at a local doctor’s office.

Telemedicine can be especially helpful for people with epilepsy, who may not be able to drive to appointments, people with neurologic disorders like multiple sclerosis and movement disorders, who may have mobility issues that make getting to a clinic difficult, and, of course, for people in rural areas who may not be able to see a neurologist based hours away without making that trip. Another effective use may be for evaluating people with possible concussions, where telemedicine could be used on-site to make an immediate diagnosis. For sports injuries, it could be used to make a decision on whether the athlete is ready to return to the field.”

Jaime Hatcher-Martin, MD, PhD, lead author who was with Emory University in Atlanta while serving on the American Academy of Neurology’s Telemedicine Work Group, is now with the company SOC Telemed and is a member of the American Academy of Neurology

For the evidence review, the researchers analyzed 101 studies on telemedicine use in the areas of concussion and traumatic brain injury, dementia, epilepsy, headache, multiple sclerosis, movement disorders, neuromuscular conditions and general neurology. Hatcher-Martin noted that evidence for the use of telemedicine for stroke has been well-established.

Overall, studies found that patients and their caregivers were just as satisfied with virtual doctor visits as they were with in-person visits. Some studies show that using telemedicine is as effective as in-person visits to make accurate diagnoses and in some cases may show improved health outcomes. However, few randomized, controlled studies have been conducted on telemedicine for neurology, outside of stroke. In many areas, little research has been done.

“This is just the beginning of evaluating the benefits of telemedicine in neurology,” said senior author Raghav Govindarajan, MD, of the University of Missouri, who served as a chair on the American Academy of Neurology’s Telemedicine Work Group and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

“We need to conduct further studies to better understand when virtual appointments are a good option for a patient. Keep in mind that telemedicine may not eliminate the need for people to meet with a neurologist in person. Rather, it is another tool that can help increase people’s access to care and also help lessen the burden of travel and costs for patients, providers and caregivers.”

via Telemedicine may be as effective as in-person visit for people with many neurologic disorders

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[WEB SITE] Brains Tend to Work in Sync During Music Therapy, Study Suggests

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MusicTherapyDocUke

 

The brains of a patient and therapist become synchronized during a music therapy session, a breakthrough that could improve future interactions between patients and therapists, researchers suggest.

The research, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, was carried out by Professor Jorg Fachner and Dr Clemens Maidhof of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

In the study, they used a procedure called hyperscanning, which is designed to record activity in two brains at the same time, allowing them to better understand how people interact.

During the session documented in the study, classical music was played as the patient discussed a serious illness in her family. Both patient and therapist wore EEG (electroencephalogram) caps containing sensors, which capture electrical signals in the brain, and the session was recorded in sync with the EEG using video cameras, a media release from Anglia Ruskin University explains.

Music therapists work towards “moments of change,” where they make a meaningful connection with their patient. At one point during this study, the patient’s brain activity shifted suddenly from displaying deep negative feelings to a positive peak. Moments later, as the therapist realized the session was working, her scan displayed similar results. In subsequent interviews, both identified that as a moment when they felt the therapy was really working.

The researchers examined activity in the brain’s right and left frontal lobes where negative and positive emotions are processed, respectively. By analyzing hyperscanning data alongside video footage and a transcript of the session, the researchers were able to demonstrate that brain synchronization occurs, and also show what a patient-therapist “moment of change” looks like inside the brain.

“This study is a milestone in music therapy research,” says lead author Jorg Fachner, Professor of Music, Health and the Brain at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), in the release.

“Music therapists report experiencing emotional changes and connections during therapy, and we’ve been able to confirm this using data from the brain.

“Music, used therapeutically, can improve well-being, and treat conditions including anxiety, depression, autism and dementia. Music therapists have had to rely on the patient’s response to judge whether this is working, but by using hyperscanning we can see exactly what is happening in the patient’s brain,” he continues.

“Hyperscanning can show the tiny, otherwise imperceptible, changes that take place during therapy. By highlighting the precise points where sessions have worked best, it could be particularly useful when treating patients for whom verbal communication is challenging. Our findings could also help to better understand emotional processing in other therapeutic interactions,” he concludes.

[Source(s): Anglia Ruskin University, Science Daily]

 

via Brains Tend to Work in Sync During Music Therapy, Study Suggests – Rehab Managment

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[BLOG POST] Mozart and epilepsy: the rhythm beats on

 

I can’t seem to get away from the theme of Mozart and epilepsy. When I first looked at this, in a blog post titled Mozart and seizures? The links between epilepsy and music, I took the topic rather lightly, more a subscript than a headline you may say. But I have since learnt to take the links between epilepsy and music more seriously.

By Barbara Krafft – The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 574471, Public Domain, Link

 

The major trigger for my ‘road to Damascus’ conversion is a 2018 paper titled Study of the Mozart effect in children with epileptic electroencephalograms, published in the journal Seizure. The paper was an eye-opener because it gave a very helpful comprehensive context to the broader beneficial effect of music…not just in epilepsy, but in other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s diseasedementia and sleep disordersThe authors, Elyza Grylls and colleagues, started on the established premise that Mozart’s music has a beneficial effect on epilepsy. What they wanted to know was if other forms of music have a similar settling effect on epilepsy, or if only Mozart’s music carries the magic touch. The authors therefore played Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major (K448) to 40 children with epilepsy who were undergoing an EEG (electroencephalogram, or electrical brain wave test). They then compared this with the effect of playing other types of music. Remarkably, they found that only Mozart’s Sonata led to a significant reduction in EEG epileptic discharges.

Public Domain, Link

The authors concluded that there was indeed an anti-epileptic effect of Mozart’s music, the so-called  ‘Mozart therapy’. But what is so special about K448? They speculate that it has to do with the structure of Mozart’s music, containing as it does, long periodicities. Interestingly, the music of Yanni, which is similarly structured, has somewhat a similar effect on brain wave activity. On the contrary, and sorry to Beethoven fans, Fur Elise doesn’t have this effect.

By W.J. Baker (held the expired copyright on the photograph) – Library of Congress[1]Contrairement à une erreur fréquemment répandue le buste a été réalisé par Hugo Hagen, non pas à partir du masque mortuaire mais, comme de nombreux autres, d’après le masque réalisé en 1812 par Franz Klein pour un buste qu’il devait réaliser ensuite., Public Domain, Link

So what does the structure of Mozart’s music do to the brain? One suggestion is that Mozart’s music enhances the body’s parasympathetic drive; this reduces the heart rate, and thereby inhibits the brain’s propensity to epileptic seizures. The suppression of this parasympathetic drive is of course the theory behind using vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) to treat drug-resistant epilepsy. For more on VNS, see my previous blog, Vagus nerve stimulation: from neurology and beyond!

By Bionerd – MRI at Charite Mitte, Berlin (used with permission), CC BY 3.0Link

You have surely wondered by now if K448 is the only one of Mozart’s compositions to have an anti-epileptic effect. It doesn’t matter if you have not, because the authors of another interesting paper did. They titled their study, published in 2018, Mozart’s music in children with drug-refractory epileptic encephalopathies: comparison of two protocols. Published in the journal Epilepsy and Behaviour, the authors, Giangennaro Coppola and colleagues, compared the effect of K448 with a set of his other compositions. Intriguingly they found that the composition set actually had a greater effect in epilepsy than K448…by a wide margin of 70% to 20%! Furthermore, the set was better tolerated by the children; they were less irritable and had a better nighttime sleep quality.   

https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=76907&picture=dog-amp-child-painting

It therefore appears as if it all rosy in the garden of music and the brain. But it is not! As every rose grows on a thorny tree, so do some forms of music trigger epileptic seizures. This so-called musicogenic epilepsy is well-recognised, and two recent culprits are the music of Sean Paul, discussed in the journal Scientific American , and the music of Ne Yo, explored by NME. Therefore you should craft your playlist wisely.

By CLASSICNEYO – Own workCC BY-SA 4.0Link

So, is it time for neurologists to start prescribing music?

Or is it too much of a double-edged sword?

Music is #SimplyIrresistible. Luca Florio on Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/elle_florio/29516744480

via Mozart and epilepsy: the rhythm beats on – The Neurology Lounge

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[WEB SITE] How does music therapy work? Brain study sheds light

Published 

Music therapy works, but no one is really sure how. Now, a novel type of brain scan may provide key insight.

man listening to music

Music is a powerful thing. In fact, it forms the basis of a type of therapy, the aptly named “music therapy.”

During sessions, a music therapist attempts to form a bond with their client in order to enhance well-being and improve confidence, communication skills, awareness, and attention.

There are several types of music therapy. Some involve simply listening to relaxing music while talking. Others involve making music with instruments, which can be particularly effective for those who struggle to communicate verbally.

One type, known as the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) aims to facilitate discussion. The therapist plays music and asks the client to describe the images that come to mind.

Trials have found benefits to music therapy, but how it works remains unclear.

Using GIM as their focus, a team led by two experts from Anglia Ruskin University, in the United Kingdom — Prof. Jörg Fachner and Clemens Maidhof, Ph.D. — set out to find the answer. Their findings appear in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Discovering important moments

The goal of a music therapist is to reach a “moment of change” in which they can strengthen their connection with their client. Therapists and clients often describe feeling in sync, and now there is evidence to prove it.

In the current study, the researchers used hyperscanning — a procedure that can simultaneously record two people’s brain activities — to study a music therapist’s session with a client.

The method, says lead author Prof. Fachner, “can show the tiny, otherwise imperceptible, changes that take place during therapy.”

The therapist and client wore EEG caps to record the electrical signaling in their brains, and the session was filmed. Ultimately, the researchers hoped to learn more about how the individuals interacted.

“Music, used therapeutically, can improve well-being and treat conditions including anxietydepressionautism, and dementia. Music therapists have had to rely on the patient’s response to judge whether this is working, but by using hyperscanning we can see exactly what is happening in the patient’s brain,” says Prof. Fachner.

Once the recordings were complete, the researchers asked the therapist, client, and two other GIM therapy experts to watch the video and each note down three moments of change, as well as one unimportant moment.

A clear connection

The team examined their answers for overlap to see whether any points were of interest to all four participants. A couple of moments fell into this category.

With that knowledge, Prof. Fachner and Maidhof examined the EEG readings from those moments. They paid particular attention to the areas of the brain that process positive and negative emotions.

Surprisingly, they came up with an image that illustrates a moment of change inside the brain.

When the client’s brain switched from negative emotions to positive ones, their EEG recording clearly showcased this. A few moments later, the therapist’s brain showed the exact same pattern.

Both the therapist and client later identified this moment as a point when they felt that the session was working. Not only were their thoughts in sync, but their brain activity, too.

The researchers also noted increased activity in both participants’ visual cortexes during these moments of change.

More effective therapy

It is unlikely that other case studies will provide the exact same results, due to the personalized nature of therapy. But more research will need to go into therapist-client relationships before the synchronicity can be confirmed.

Still, Prof. Fachner described the study as “a milestone in music therapy research.”

Music therapists report experiencing emotional changes and connections during therapy, and we’ve been able to confirm this using data from the brain.”

Prof. Jörg Fachner

He adds that the study has further implications than just proving a point. He explains, “By highlighting the precise points where sessions have worked best, it could be particularly useful when treating patients for whom verbal communication is challenging.”

The findings could also make music therapy more effective by exposing when and how a therapist should intervene for maximum efficacy.

And, as Prof. Fachner notes, studies such as this may “help [researchers] better understand emotional processing in other therapeutic interactions.”

 

via How does music therapy work? Brain study sheds light

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[WEB SITE] Antiepileptic drug use linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia

The use of antiepileptic drugs is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, DZNE. Continuous use of antiepileptic drugs for a period exceeding one year was associated with a 15 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the Finnish dataset, and with a 30 percent increased risk of dementia in the German dataset.

Some antiepileptic drugs are known to impair cognitive function, which refers to all different aspects of information processing. When the researchers compared different antiepileptic drugs, they found that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was specifically associated with drugs that impair cognitive function. These drugs were associated with a 20 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and with a 60 percent increased risk of dementia.

The researchers also found that the higher the dose of a drug that impairs cognitive function, the higher the risk of dementia. However, other antiepileptic drugs, i.e. those which do not impair cognitive processing, were not associated with the risk.

“More research should be conducted into the long-term cognitive effects of these drugs, especially among older people,” Senior Researcher Heidi Taipale from the University of Eastern Finland says.

Besides for epilepsy, antiepileptic drugs are used in the treatment of neuropathic pain, bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. This new study is the largest research on the topic so far, and the first to investigate the association in terms of regularity of use, dose and comparing the risk between antiepileptic drugs with and without cognitive-impairing effects. The results were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The association of antiepileptic drug use with Alzheimer’s disease was assessed in Finnish persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their controls without the disease. This study is part of the nationwide register-based MEDALZ study, which includes all 70,718 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in Finland during 2005-2011 and their 282,862 controls. The association of antiepileptic drug use with dementia was investigated in a sample from a large German statutory health insurance provider, Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK). The dataset includes 20,325 persons diagnosed with dementia in 2004-2011, and their 81,300 controls.

via Antiepileptic drug use linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia

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[Abstract] The Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury on Later Life: Effects on Normal Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases

ABSTRACT

The acute and chronic effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) have been widely described; however, there is limited knowledge on how a TBI sustained during early adulthood or mid-adulthood will influence aging. Epidemiological studies have explored whether TBI poses a risk for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging. We will discuss the influence of TBI and resulting medical comorbidities such as endocrine, sleep, and inflammatory disturbances on age-related gray and white matter changes and cognitive decline. Post mortem studies examining amyloid, tau, and other proteins will be discussed within the context of neurodegenerative diseases and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The data support the suggestion that pathological changes triggered by an earlier TBI will have an influence on normal aging processes and will interact with neurodegenerative disease processes rather than the development of a specific disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Chronic neurophysiologic change after TBI may have detrimental effects on neurodegenerative disease.

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via The Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury on Later Life: Effects on Normal Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases | Abstract

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[WEB SITE] Hospital wins patent in VR treatment for cognitive disorders.

A local hospital is drawing attention by winning a patent in cognitive rehabilitation treatment using a 3D virtual reality (VR) technology.

The Gil Medical Center and Gachon University’s industry-university cooperation foundation said on Monday they registered the patent in “a method and system using 3D virtual reality for the treatment of cognitive impairment.” Professor Lee Ju-kang of Gachon University Gil Medical Center’s physical medicine and rehabilitation department had developed the system.

The invention allows doctors to treat a wide range of cognitive disorders, including dementia, with all the different kinds of virtual space. Physicians expect better treatment results with the new technology, which offers virtual areas such as homes that are more familiar to patients than hospital’s treatment rooms.

To build 3D background information, the user of the program should visit the patient’s home and scan it first. Then, the user can save it as a database.

“Existing dementia treatments are quite limited, as most of them focus on prevention of further progress rather than on cure. Thus, it is becoming more important to use rehabilitation treatment to prevent dementia-derived adjustment disorders or accidents in daily life,” the medical center stated in the patent explanation.

“Existing treatments include cognitive rehabilitation offered in a limited environment such as hospital’s treatment room and cognitive training through a few computer programs, which are far from real life,” it went on to say. “By generating 3D virtual reality, we have developed a system to give patients easier access to necessary environment and targets and treat their cognitive impairment.”

Earlier, the hospital unveiled a plan to open a “VR Life Center” next January to treat patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder.

“If we combine VR technology with medical treatment software, we can reenact an environment, which is difficult to visit in reality and expect better treatment results,” the hospital said. “VR treatments have already been used as a psychological treatment for a phobia and an addiction and have proven effective.”

via Hospital wins patent in VR treatment for cognitive disorders – Korea Biomedical Review

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[BLOG POST] 20 Must-Know Facts To Harness Neuroplasticity And Improve Brain Health

2016-06-21-1466519690-6875968-holdingbrain.jpg

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, so let me share these 20 Must-Know Facts to Harness Neuroplasticity & Improve Brain Health that come from the hundreds of scientific and medical studies we analyzed to prepare the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Improve Brain Health and Performance at Any Age:

  1. There is more than one “It” in “Use It or Lose It” — our performance depends on a variety of brain functions and cognitive skills, not just one (be it “attention” or “memory” or any other).
  2. Genes do not determine the fate of our brains. Thanks to lifelong neuroplasticity, our lifestyles are as important as our genes-if not more- in how our brains grow and our minds evolve.
  3. We need to pay more attention to Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) to verify whether any intervention causes an effect, and under what specific circumstances.
  4. The largest recent RCT (the ongoing FINGER study) and a 2010 systematic review of all relevant RCTs provide useful guidance: First, they report a protective effect of social and cognitive engagement, physical exercise, and the Mediterranean diet. Second, the average benefits at the population level appear quite limited, so we need to have realistic expectations.
  5. Physical exercise and increased fitness promote brain functioning through a variety of mechanisms, including increased brain volume, blood supply and growth hormone levels.
  6. Cardiovascular exercise that gets the heart beating – from walking to skiing, tennis and basketball – seems to bring the greatest brain benefits; thirty to sixty minutes per day, three days a week, seems to be the best regimen.
  7. Mental stimulation strengthens the connections between neurons (synapses), improving neuron survival and cognitive functioning. Mental stimulation also helps build cognitive reserve, helping the brain better cope with potential AD pathology.
  8. Routine activities do not challenge the brain. Keeping up the challenge requires going to the next level of difficulty, or trying something new.
  9. The only leisure activity that has been associated with reduced cognitive function is watching television.
  10. Brain training can work, putting the “cells that fire together wire together” to good use, but available RCTs suggest some key conditions must be met to transfer to real-life benefits.
  11. The brain needs a lot of energy: It extracts approximately 50% of the oxygen and 10% of the glucose from arterial blood.
  12. The Mediterranean Diet, supplemented with olive oil and nuts, is associated with decreased risk of cognitive decline.
  13. Moderate doses of caffeine increase alertness but there is no clear sustained lifetime health benefit (or harm).
  14. Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption seems to lower the risk of dementia.
  15. Taking “brain supplements” of any kind does not seem to boost cognitive function or reduce risks of cognitive decline or dementia, unless directed to address an identified deficiency.
  16. The larger and the more complex a person’s social network is, the bigger the amygdala (which plays a major role in our behavior and motivation). There is no clear evidence to date on whether “online” relationships are fundamentally different from “offline” ones in this regard.
  17. Chronic stress reduces and can even inhibit neurogenesis. Memory and general mental flexibility are impaired by chronic stress.
  18. There is increasing evidence that meditation and biofeedback can successfully teach users to self-regulate physiological stress responses.
  19. We will not have a Magic Pill or General Solution to solve all our cognitive challenges any time soon, so a holistic multi-pronged approach is recommended, centered around nutrition, stress management, and both physical and mental exercise.
  20. Having said that, no size fits all, so it’s critical to understand and address individual needs, priorities and starting points.

Now, remember that what counts in terms of brain health is not reading this article, or any other, but practicing some healthy behaviors every day until small steps become internalized habits.

Revisit the fact above that really grabbed your attention…and make a decision to try something new this summer.

Source: 20 Must-Know Facts To Harness Neuroplasticity And Improve Brain Health | HuffPost

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