Sunday December 8, 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)

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Here’s How a Healthy Diet Slows Down Development of Memory Problems

Healthy diet may slow development of memory problems

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Improve memory
A healthy diet and exercise can slow down memory problems. Pixabay

A heart-healthy diet and aerobic exercise may slow development of memory problems, a new study suggests.

Cognitive impairment without dementia (CIND), or mild cognitive impairment, is a condition that affects your memory and may put you at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the researchers said.

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers from the Duke University examined two potential ways to slow the development of CIND based on what we know about preventing heart disease.

The research team had a theory: That the healthy lifestyle behaviours that slow the development of heart disease could reduce heart disease risk and also slow cognitive decline in older adults with CIND.

healthy diet for memory
A diet with a higher nutritional value can sharpen your memory. Pixabay

These behaviours include regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet, such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

In order to investigate their theory, the researchers designed a study titled “Exercise and NutritionaL Interventions for coGnitive and Cardiovascular HealTh EnhaNcement” (or ENLIGHTEN for short).

The goal of the study was to examine the effects of aerobic exercise and the DASH diet on cognitive functioning in older adults with CIND. The study examined 160 adults 55-years-old or older.

The study participants were older adults who didn’t exercise and had memory problems, difficulty thinking, and making decisions. They also had at least one additional risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or other chronic conditions.

Participants took a number of tests to measure their heart disease risk factors and cognitive ability.

Researchers also assessed participants’ dietary habits and ability to perform daily activities.

The participants were then randomly assigned to one of four groups: a group doing aerobic exercise alone, a group following the DASH diet alone, a group doing aerobic exercise and following the DASH diet combined, or a group receiving standard health education.

Exercising for memory
Exercising everyday can help improve your memory. Pixabay

At the conclusion of the six-month intervention and assessment, participants were free to engage in whatever activity and dietary habits they desired, with no restrictions.

The results of the research team’s study showed that exercise improved the participants’ ability to think, remember, and make decisions compared to non-exercisers, and that combining exercise with the DASH diet improved the ability to think, remember, and make decisions, compared to people who didn’t exercise or follow the diet.

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The researchers concluded that their findings are promising proof that improved ability to think, remember, and make decisions can last one year after completing a six-month exercise intervention. They suggested that further studies would be needed to learn more. (IANS)