Wednesday June 19, 2019

Memory-related Brain Areas become Smaller and Lose Cohesion as People Age: Study

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to record healthy people's brain activity

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Representational image. Pixabay

November 25, 2016: Various brain regions that once synchronised their activity during memory tasks become smaller and lose cohesion as people age, says a study.

In the study, researchers from Princeton University in New Jersey, US, described a novel method to characterise and compare the brain dynamics of individual people.

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The research showed that regardless of whether we were using memory, directing attention, or resting, the number of synchronous groups of connections within our brain was consistent.

However, between different individuals, these numbers vary dramatically.

In fact, during memory specific actions, variations between people are closely linked to age.

Younger participants have only a few large synchronous groups that link nearly the entire brain in coordinated activity, while older participants show progressively more but smaller groups of connections.

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In the older group this indicates loss of cohesive brain activity — even in the absence of memory impairment, the authors noted.

“This method elegantly captures important differences between individual brains, which are often complex and difficult to describe,” said Elizabeth Davison from Princeton University.

“The resulting tools show promise for understanding how different brain characteristics are related to behaviour, health, and disease,” Davison added.

For the study, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record healthy people’s brain activity during memory tasks, attention tasks, and at rest.

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For each person, the fMRI data was recast as a network composed of brain regions and the connections between them.

The scientists then use this network to measure how closely different groups of connections changed together over time.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. (IANS)

Next Story

Heart Failure Patients with Better Fitness Likely to have Less Cognitive Impairment

"The message for the patients with heart failure is to do exercises," said study author Ercole Vellone, Professor at University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy

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Heart disease, aspirin
For people without heart disease, taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes may increase the risk of severe brain bleeding. Pixabay

Heart patients who exercise regularly and have better fitness are likely to have less cognitive impairment, says a study. Fitter patients have better memory, it adds. “The message for the patients with heart failure is to do exercises,” said study author Ercole Vellone, Professor at University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy.

The study analysed data from over 600 male patients, aged 67-71 years, with heart failure from six countries. During the research, the “Montreal Cognitive Assessment” test was used to measure cognitive function and exercise capacity was measured with a six-minute walk test. The results showed the younger and better educated heart failure patients with better fitness were significantly less likely to have cognitive impairment.

heart failure, exercise
The results showed the younger and better educated heart failure patients with better fitness were significantly less likely to have cognitive impairment. Pixabay

Two-thirds of the patients with heart failure had cognitive problems, showed the study, presented at the EuroHeartCare 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), held in Milan, Italy, from May 2 to May 4.

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According to the study, cognitive dysfunction is a common problem in the patients with heart failure with 67 per cent reporting at least mild impairment. “There is a misconception that patients with heart failure should not exercise. That is clearly not the case,” Vellone said.

“Find an activity you enjoy and which you can do regularly. It could be walking, swimming or any other activities. There is good evidence that it will improve your health and memory, and make you feel better,” Vellone said. (IANS)