Tag Archives: cognition

Music, meditation may improve early cognitive decline – MNT

Meditation and music listening programs have shown promise in improving measures of cognitive and memory in adults with subjective cognitive decline, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Emerging evidence indicates that subjective cognitive decline (SCD) could represent a pre-clinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, or unhealthy brain aging. Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million people in the United States.

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Dr. Kim Innes, associate professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and colleagues aimed to assess the effects of two mind-body practices – Kirtan Kriya meditation and music listening – on cognitive outcomes in people with SCD.

Kirtan Kriya is a form of yoga meditation that combines focused breathing practices, singing or chanting, finger movements, and visualization. Practitioners of yoga claim that this type of meditation stimulates all of a person’s senses and the associated brain areas.

Meditation and music listening programs have shown promise in improving measures of cognitive and memory in adults with subjective cognitive decline, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Listening to music or taking part in meditation could improve memory and cognitive function among people with SCD.

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Musicians have faster reflexes – Study

I always loved that famous William Congreve quote – ” Music has charms that soothe the savage breast.” It’s often misquoted as the savage breast. I confess, I am a music lover. Sadly, the only instrument I play is my stereo. I never got around to actually learning how to play an actual instrument. More’s the pity.

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Researchers at University of Montreal’s audiology school find that musicians have faster reaction times than non-musicians – and that could have implications for the elderly.

Could learning to play a musical instrument help the elderly react faster and stay alert?

Quite likely, according to a new study by Université de Montréal’s School of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, part of UdeM’s medical faculty.

Published in the U.S. journal Brain and Cognition, the study shows that musicians have faster reaction times to sensory stimuli than non-musicians have.

And that has implications for preventing some effects of aging, said lead researcher Simon Landry, whose study is part of his doctoral thesis in biomedical science.

“The more we know about the impact of music on really basic sensory processes, the more we can apply musical training to individuals who might have slower reaction times,” Landry said.

“As people get older, for example, we know their reaction times get slower. So if we know that playing a musical instrument increases reaction times, then maybe playing an instrument will be helpful for them.”

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High cholesterol intake and eggs do not increase risk of memory disorders

I am now and  have been for years a big fan of eggs. A hundred years ago, it seems, I worked on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading floor where I covered the egg futures market along with pork bellies, live cattle and live hog futures. In that capacity, I learned a great deal about eggs from their production to our consumption. I have posted on them numerous times. Here are a few: Eating eggs is good for you. I wrote that in the first month of this blog’s existence. Feel free to type e-g-g-s in the search box at the right to read more posts on eggs.

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A new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows that a relatively high intake of dietary cholesterol, or eating one egg every day, is not associated with an elevated risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, no association was found in persons carrying the APOE4 gene variant that affects cholesterol metabolism and increases the risk of memory disorders. APOE4 is common in Finland. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Continue reading

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Seniors’ brains benefit from distraction – Study

While I want to live past 100, I also want to have my brain fully functional. So, any piece of information that satisfies that criterion, is music to my ears.

As you age, you may find it more difficult to focus on certain tasks. But while distractions can be frustrating, they may not be as bad as we think. In a review published November 15 in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, researchers at the University of Toronto and Harvard University suggest that there may be some benefits to reduced focus, especially in people over 50. Using behavioral studies and neuroimaging evidence, the researchers discuss how being easily distracted can help adults with, for example, problem solving and learning new information.

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“Different types of tasks benefit from a more broad focus of attention, and this is usually seen in tasks that involve thinking creatively or using information that was previously irrelevant,” says first author Tarek Amer, a psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and a graduate student at the Rotman Research Institute. “The literature gives us the impression that older adults are essentially doomed as their cognitive abilities decrease, when, in reality, many older adults get along just fine in their day-to-day lives, and we think that shows that aging adults don’t always need to have high cognitive control.”

When people have high cognitive control, they are able to maintain their focused attention and ignore distractions to get things done. But Amer and his colleagues found that people with reduced cognitive control had an easier time thinking of creative solutions to problems, and they were better at noticing patterns in the world around them. These findings also indicated that older adults could outperform their younger counterparts on certain problem-solving tasks, as they were able to broaden their attention more easily. Additionally, people didn’t require high levels of cognitive control for inherent, day-to-day tasks, like walking down the street or learning new information.

In order to explore the benefits of cognitive control, many lab-based behavioral experiments require participants to complete a specific set of tasks, limiting the role of distraction. But the researchers say these experiments have shortcomings, as they don’t explore situations when distractions and reduced cognitive control could be helpful, making the conclusions fairly one sided.

“Many of the tasks that we study in classic cognitive psychology are tasks that require high cognitive control, but these assigned tasks might not accurately mirror what people do in the real world because they limit distractions,” says co-author Lynn Hasher, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the Rotman Research Institute. “But a distraction in one setting can actually be useful information in another setting, and the more information you have, the better able you’re going to be to address a current problem.”

Amer and his colleagues hope to use this information to determine exactly what tasks can benefit from reduced control in order to better simulate these experiences in a lab. Although they also hope to expand the research beyond the aging population to examine how distractions can be beneficial for people with a range of cognitive impairments, for now they recognize that this understanding of cognitive control is a step closer to understanding the aging brain.

“There is a question about what really sustains performance in old age, and it’s clear that working memory alone cannot provide us with the answer to that question,” says Hasher. “But we think it’s possible that studying reduced cognitive control can help us understand how older adults can still perform independently and successfully in their lives.”

While it is gratifying to learn that some slippage in our mental acuity is not necessarily harmful, it is also crucial that we keep are mental ‘hardware’ in toptop shape. Please check out my Page -While it is gratifying to learn that some slippage in our mental acuity is not necessarily harmful, it is also crucial that we keep are mental ‘hardware’ in toptop shape. Please check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) for more.

Tony

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High Blood Pressure May Impair Cognitive Function and Pose Risk for Alzheimer’s

My family history of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia popped this news item up onto my radar screen.

Before considering problems with high blood pressure, let’s understand what it is. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushed against the the wall of the arteries. It depends on the strength of the heartbeat, thickness and volume of the blood, the elasticity of the artery walls and general health. It is the arterial pressure of the circulation, a dynamic process that fluctuates all day.

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Normal BP is 120/80, systolic/diastolic. Prehypertensive is 120-139 over 80-89. Stage one hypertension is 140-159 over 90 – 99. Stage two hypertension reads 160 -179 over 100 – 109.

Some of the causes of high blood pressure include smoking, overweight, lack of physical activity, too much salt, too much alcohol, stress, older age, genetics. Continue reading

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Vitamin D – Do you get enough?

Vitamin D is considered by some to be the rock star of the vitamin world. To read further on its benefits check out: Vitamin D and Cognitive Function, Vitamin D Deficiency May be Linked to Heart Disease, Vitamin D Deficiency May Compromise Immune Function, Calcium and Vitamin D Help Hormones Help Bones, Vitamin D Improves Mood and Blood Pressure in Women with Diabetes, Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard, What are the ABC’s of Vitamins?

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Stave Off Cognitive Decline With Seafood – Rush

I have written repeatedly about the benefits to the brain of cardiovascular exercise. You can fill yourself in on details from my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits).

Eating a meal of seafood or other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week may protect against age-related memory loss and thinking problems in older people, according to a team of researchers at Rush University Medical Center and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

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Their research findings were published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Judith Zwartz Foundation.

The age-related memory loss and thinking problems of participants in the study who reported eating seafood less than once a week declined more rapidly compared to those who ate at least one seafood meal per week. Continue reading

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Vitamin D May Help Prevent and Treat Diseases Associated with Aging

Researchers reviewed evidence that suggests an association between vitamin D deficiency and chronic diseases associated with aging such as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Vitamin D is really the rock star of vitamins. I have written about it before:
Vitamin D May Help Prevent and Treat Diseases Associated with Aging
Low Vitamin D Predicts More Severe Strokes, Poor Health Post-stroke
Adding Vitamin D for the Winter Months – Guest Post – Kelli Jennings
How Good is Vitamin D For You? – Infographic
Link Between Vitamin D and Dementia Risk Confirmed

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Vitamin D may play a vital role in the prevention and treatment of diseases associated with aging, according to researchers at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing (MNSON). These findings were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Aging and Gerontology.

Researchers reviewed evidence that suggests an association between vitamin D deficiency and chronic diseases associated with aging such as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

“Vitamin D deficiency is a common, serious medical condition that significantly affects the health and well-being of older adults,” said Sue Penckofer, PhD, RN, study author and full professor, MNSON.

Older adults are at risk for vitamin D deficiency due to diet, reduced time outdoors and poor skin absorption of the nutrient. With the number of people ages 65 and older expected to more than double from 2012 to 2060, the problem…

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Study Suggests Association between Vitamin D Levels and Cognitive Function

“With just the baseline observational data, you can’t conclude that low vitamin D causes cognitive decline. When we looked four years down the road, low vitamin D was associated with worse cognitive performance on one of the two cognitive tests used,” Wilson said. “It is interesting that there is this association and ultimately the next question is whether or not supplementing vitamin D would improve cognitive function over time.”

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Vitamin D deficiency and cognitive impairment are common in older adults, but there isn’t a lot of conclusive research into whether there’s a relationship between the two.

A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center published online ahead of print this month in the journal of the American Geriatrics Society enhances the existing literature on the subject.

“This study provides increasing evidence that suggests there is an association between low vitamin D levels and cognitive decline over time,” said lead author Valerie Wilson, M.D., assistant professor of geriatrics at Wake Forest Baptist. “Although this study cannot establish a direct cause and effect relationship, it would have a huge public health implication if vitamin D supplementation could be shown to improve cognitive performance over time because deficiency is so common in the population.”

Wilson and colleagues were interested in the association between vitamin D levels and cognitive function over time…

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