Archive for March, 2015

I have been specialized in memory and memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders for a quarter of a century. Interestingly, in all that time I have read very little about Dr. Alois Alzheimer (6/14/1864 – 12/19/1915). Engelhardt and de Mota Gomes wrote a recent article (“Alzheimer’s 100 anniversary of death and his contribution to a better understanding of senile dementia,” 2015, Arquivos De Neouro-Psiquiatria, 73, 159-162 PMID 25742587) in honor of the upcoming 100th anniversary of his death that helped me put Dr. Alzheimer in a broader context. It’s important to understand that the concept of “senile dementia” dates back thousands of years. Both Aristotle and Plato held the belief that old age is linked to inevitable memory failure. The concept of mental stimulation as neuroprotective is also not new. Cicero believed that keeping mentally active prevented […]


There are retirement stories both ways. Some have a long and rewarding retirement. Others seem to decline either physically or mentally shortly after retirement. The fear is that by retiring, one becomes disengaged and cognitive impairment sets in. After all, educational attainment, social engagement, exercise, challenging work, and bilingualism are “neuroprotective so they decrease the risk” of such problems as Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, the conundrum is that we cannot determine cause as there is no study that disentangles whether time of retirement is a result or the cause of cognitive decline. This is further complicated by the fact that Alzheimer’s disease unfolds over the course of decades with subtle onset. But what does the research tell us? There are a few studies that indicate that there is a correlation, an association between retirement and the risk of developing dementia. […]


“Music is ubiquitous in our lives” (Turn off the music! Music impairs visual association memory performance in older adults, 2015, The Gerontologist). It’s present while we are driving, studying, working, shopping, and dining. I often feel that when I’m out and about, I am barraged by music and background TV. Further adding to my frustration is the fact that others are choosing what I have to hear as well as how loud it is. What is the impact of this noise on cognition and memory? Does it facilitate conversations at diner? Does background music help concentration? Does it help or impair memory? Does it release stress? There is evidence that background music enhances performance on simple tasks like naming as many animals as you can in one minute – called fluency. Then there is the controversial “Mozart Effect.” In the […]

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