Memory Research News in Alzheimer's & Dementia

Rigorous exercise does not slow dementia decline

  • A study involving nearly 500 people with dementia has found that a rigorous physical exercise program did nothing to slow their decline.

A number of studies have found that physical exercise can help delay the onset of dementia, however the ability of exercise to slow the decline once dementia has set in is a more equivocal question. A large new study answers this question in the negative.

The study involved 494 people with mild-to-moderate dementia (average age 77; 61% male), of whom 329 were randomly assigned to a four-month aerobic and strength exercise programme and 165 were assigned to usual care. The exercise program was personalized, and involved two 60-90 minute gym sessions every week, plus a further hour at home. Nearly two-thirds of the exercise group attended more than three-quarters of the gym sessions.

While the exercise group did get physically fitter, their cognitive fitness (as measured by ADAS-cog score) actually worsened slightly.

The researchers emphasize that this was a specialized and intense exercise program, and in no way should it be taken to mean that gentle exercise, which is good for dementia sufferers, should be avoided.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/16/rigorous-exercise-makes-dementia-worse-study-concludes

Reference: 

[4353] Lamb SE, Sheehan B, Atherton N, Nichols V, Collins H, Mistry D, Dosanjh S, Slowther AMarie, Khan I, Petrou S, et al. Dementia And Physical Activity (DAPA) trial of moderate to high intensity exercise training for people with dementia: randomised controlled trial. BMJ [Internet]. 2018 ;361:k1675. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k1675

Rigorous exercise does not slow dementia decline

  • A study involving nearly 500 people with dementia has found that a rigorous physical exercise program did nothing to slow their decline.

A number of studies have found that physical exercise can help delay the onset of dementia, however the ability of exercise to slow the decline once dementia has set in is a more equivocal question. A large new study answers this question in the negative.

The study involved 494 people with mild-to-moderate dementia (average age 77; 61% male), of whom 329 were randomly assigned to a four-month aerobic and strength exercise programme and 165 were assigned to usual care. The exercise program was personalized, and involved two 60-90 minute gym sessions every week, plus a further hour at home. Nearly two-thirds of the exercise group attended more than three-quarters of the gym sessions.

While the exercise group did get physically fitter, their cognitive fitness (as measured by ADAS-cog score) actually worsened slightly.

The researchers emphasize that this was a specialized and intense exercise program, and in no way should it be taken to mean that gentle exercise, which is good for dementia sufferers, should be avoided.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/16/rigorous-exercise-makes-dementia-worse-study-concludes

Reference: 

[4353] Lamb SE, Sheehan B, Atherton N, Nichols V, Collins H, Mistry D, Dosanjh S, Slowther AMarie, Khan I, Petrou S, et al. Dementia And Physical Activity (DAPA) trial of moderate to high intensity exercise training for people with dementia: randomised controlled trial. BMJ [Internet]. 2018 ;361:k1675. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k1675

Reduced face memorization ability in those with MCI

  • A small study suggests that the ability to remember faces specifically is impaired in those with amnestic mild cognitive impairment.

A small Japanese study has found evidence that those with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) show a specific decline in their ability to recognize faces, and this is accompanied by changes in the way they scan faces.

The study involved 18 patients with aMCI and 18 age-matched healthy controls. Participants were tested on their ability to perceive and remember images of faces and houses.

Those with aMCI showed poorer memory for faces compared to their memory for houses, while control participants showed no difference between the two. Moreover, compared with controls, those with aMCI spent less time looking at the eyes in the image, while increasing the time they spent looking at the mouths of faces.

In general, people have an excellent memory for faces compared to other visual stimuli, and the eyes are particularly useful in helping us remember the face. The researchers suggest that damage to the brain region known as the fusiform face area (FFA) is responsible for the abnormal processing of faces. It is worth noting that a case study of a patient with acquired prosopagnosia revealed the same pattern of fixating on the mouth rather than the eyes.

The finding is consistent with several other studies showing impaired face processing in those with aMCI, but there is some controversy about that conclusion.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-11/ku-pso112117.php

Full text available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14585-5

Reference: 

[4324] Kawagoe T, Matsushita M, Hashimoto M, Ikeda M, Sekiyama K. Face-specific memory deficits and changes in eye scanning patterns among patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2017 ;7(1):14344. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14585-5

Reduced face memorization ability in those with MCI

  • A small study suggests that the ability to remember faces specifically is impaired in those with amnestic mild cognitive impairment.

A small Japanese study has found evidence that those with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) show a specific decline in their ability to recognize faces, and this is accompanied by changes in the way they scan faces.

The study involved 18 patients with aMCI and 18 age-matched healthy controls. Participants were tested on their ability to perceive and remember images of faces and houses.

Those with aMCI showed poorer memory for faces compared to their memory for houses, while control participants showed no difference between the two. Moreover, compared with controls, those with aMCI spent less time looking at the eyes in the image, while increasing the time they spent looking at the mouths of faces.

In general, people have an excellent memory for faces compared to other visual stimuli, and the eyes are particularly useful in helping us remember the face. The researchers suggest that damage to the brain region known as the fusiform face area (FFA) is responsible for the abnormal processing of faces. It is worth noting that a case study of a patient with acquired prosopagnosia revealed the same pattern of fixating on the mouth rather than the eyes.

The finding is consistent with several other studies showing impaired face processing in those with aMCI, but there is some controversy about that conclusion.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-11/ku-pso112117.php

Full text available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14585-5

Reference: 

[4324] Kawagoe T, Matsushita M, Hashimoto M, Ikeda M, Sekiyama K. Face-specific memory deficits and changes in eye scanning patterns among patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2017 ;7(1):14344. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14585-5

Personality changes during transition to MCI

  • Behavioral and personality changes seen in those with Alzheimer's appear to be reflected in very early increases in neuroticism and declines in openness.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a precursor of Alzheimer's disease, although having MCI does not mean you are definitely going to progress to Alzheimer's. A new study suggests that one sign of MCI development might be personality changes.

The study involved 277 cognitively healthy residents of a U.S. County, who had the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 gene (otherwise known as the ‘Alzheimer’s gene’). Over the study period (around 7 years), 25 developed MCI. Their performance on the Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness Personality Inventory—Revised (delivered at the beginning of the study, as well as at other times during the study) was compared with that of the other 252 participants.

Neuroticism increased significantly more in those developing MCI, and openness decreased more. Those developing MCI also showed significantly greater depression, somatization, irritability, anxiety, and aggressive attitude. (Somatization refers to the tendency to generate physical manifestations in response to psychological distress.)

While such personality changes may be barely noticeable at this stage, it may be that diagnosing such early personality changes could help experts develop earlier, safer, and more effective treatments — or even prevention options — for the more severe types of behavior challenges that affect people with Alzheimer's disease.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-01/ags-pcd012318.php

Reference: 

[4323] Caselli RJ, Langlais BT, Dueck AC, Henslin BR, Johnson TA, Woodruff BK, Hoffman‐Snyder C, Locke DEC. Personality Changes During the Transition from Cognitive Health to Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society [Internet]. 2018 ;66(4):671 - 678. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jgs.15182

Personality changes during transition to MCI

  • Behavioral and personality changes seen in those with Alzheimer's appear to be reflected in very early increases in neuroticism and declines in openness.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a precursor of Alzheimer's disease, although having MCI does not mean you are definitely going to progress to Alzheimer's. A new study suggests that one sign of MCI development might be personality changes.

The study involved 277 cognitively healthy residents of a U.S. County, who had the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ɛ4 gene (otherwise known as the ‘Alzheimer’s gene’). Over the study period (around 7 years), 25 developed MCI. Their performance on the Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness Personality Inventory—Revised (delivered at the beginning of the study, as well as at other times during the study) was compared with that of the other 252 participants.

Neuroticism increased significantly more in those developing MCI, and openness decreased more. Those developing MCI also showed significantly greater depression, somatization, irritability, anxiety, and aggressive attitude. (Somatization refers to the tendency to generate physical manifestations in response to psychological distress.)

While such personality changes may be barely noticeable at this stage, it may be that diagnosing such early personality changes could help experts develop earlier, safer, and more effective treatments — or even prevention options — for the more severe types of behavior challenges that affect people with Alzheimer's disease.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-01/ags-pcd012318.php

Reference: 

[4323] Caselli RJ, Langlais BT, Dueck AC, Henslin BR, Johnson TA, Woodruff BK, Hoffman‐Snyder C, Locke DEC. Personality Changes During the Transition from Cognitive Health to Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society [Internet]. 2018 ;66(4):671 - 678. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jgs.15182

Dementia trend shows later onset with fewer years of the disease

  • A large study shows that the falling rates of dementia reflect later onset coupled with shorter time spent with the dementia.

A large study using data from the famous Framingham Heart Study has compared changes in dementia onset over the last three decades. The study found that over time the age of onset has increased while the length of time spent with dementia has decreased.

The study involved 5,205 participants from the Framingham Original and Offspring cohorts. Four 5-year periods anchored to different baseline examinations (participants have been examined every four years) were compared. These baseline years are (on average, because participants’ schedules are different): 1978, 1989, 1996, 2006. Participants were those who were aged 60 or older and dementia-free at the start of a time period. There were at least 2000 participants in each time period. In total, there were 371 cases of dementia, and 43% of dementia cases survived more than 5 years after diagnosis.

It was found that the mean age of dementia onset increased by around two years per time period, while age at death increased by around one year. Length of survival after diagnosis decreased over time for everyone, taken as a whole, and also for each gender and education level, taken separately. Survival was almost 6 years in the first time period, and only three years in the last. But the mean age of onset was 80 in the first period, compared to over 86 in the last.

However, the changes haven’t been steady over the 30 years, but rather occurred mostly in those with dementia in 1986–1991 compared to 1977–1983.

Part of the reason for the changes is thought to be because of the reduced risk of stroke (largely because of better blood pressure management), and the better stroke treatments available. Stroke is a major risk factor for dementia. Other reasons might include lower burdens of multiple infections, better education, and better nutrition.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/uoth-dts042318.php

Reference: 

[4322] Dufouil C, Beiser A, Chêne G, Seshadri S. Are Trends in Dementia Incidence Associated With Compression in Morbidity? Evidence From The Framingham Heart Study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B [Internet]. 2018 ;73(suppl_1):S65 - S72. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/psychsocgerontology/article/73/suppl_1/S65/4971572

Dementia trend shows later onset with fewer years of the disease

  • A large study shows that the falling rates of dementia reflect later onset coupled with shorter time spent with the dementia.

A large study using data from the famous Framingham Heart Study has compared changes in dementia onset over the last three decades. The study found that over time the age of onset has increased while the length of time spent with dementia has decreased.

The study involved 5,205 participants from the Framingham Original and Offspring cohorts. Four 5-year periods anchored to different baseline examinations (participants have been examined every four years) were compared. These baseline years are (on average, because participants’ schedules are different): 1978, 1989, 1996, 2006. Participants were those who were aged 60 or older and dementia-free at the start of a time period. There were at least 2000 participants in each time period. In total, there were 371 cases of dementia, and 43% of dementia cases survived more than 5 years after diagnosis.

It was found that the mean age of dementia onset increased by around two years per time period, while age at death increased by around one year. Length of survival after diagnosis decreased over time for everyone, taken as a whole, and also for each gender and education level, taken separately. Survival was almost 6 years in the first time period, and only three years in the last. But the mean age of onset was 80 in the first period, compared to over 86 in the last.

However, the changes haven’t been steady over the 30 years, but rather occurred mostly in those with dementia in 1986–1991 compared to 1977–1983.

Part of the reason for the changes is thought to be because of the reduced risk of stroke (largely because of better blood pressure management), and the better stroke treatments available. Stroke is a major risk factor for dementia. Other reasons might include lower burdens of multiple infections, better education, and better nutrition.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/uoth-dts042318.php

Reference: 

[4322] Dufouil C, Beiser A, Chêne G, Seshadri S. Are Trends in Dementia Incidence Associated With Compression in Morbidity? Evidence From The Framingham Heart Study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B [Internet]. 2018 ;73(suppl_1):S65 - S72. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/psychsocgerontology/article/73/suppl_1/S65/4971572