Archive for April, 2015

There are two main pathways for cognition as we age: normal aging and cognitive decline (abnormal aging). It is important to understand that aging is not a disease, Alzheimer’s is. It seems clear that there are things we can do to protect and enhance cognition during normal aging. What is not clear is whether there are things that we can do to protect against abnormal aging. Staying sharp cognitively is a goal for many seniors as evidenced by the popularity of “brain fitness” programs such as Lumosity. Lumosity alone has some 70 million members from 180 different counties. It’s marketing ads boast that it is “scientifically” developed. There is no clear evidence that mastering their 40 games makes any real world improvement in everyday cognitive functioning let alone protects against abnormal aging. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine […]


I finally got around to reading a book that one of my clients gave me a couple of years ago – My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, 2006, Plume: New York, Dr. Taylor is a Neuroanatomist who had a stroke on December 10, 1996 when in her mid 30s. There are two types of stroke. One is caused by blockage (infarction) of blood vessels in the brain, the other caused by bleeding (hemorrhage). Hers was the latter caused by the rupturing of an abnormal blood vessel structure, ateriovenous malformation, which she didn’t realize she had until it bled. Her recovery took 8 years – don’t believe the 6 month rule. The stroke left her completely disabled – unable to walk, talk, read, write or recall much of her life. Although the book is an excellent, approachable, personal, […]


“As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined.” We have long believed that experience and stimulation in early life determines social and intellectual behavior. Indeed, Freud presented theories that personality is largely formed by the age of five. We have broadened our views since then but it is clear that the young brain is malleable, capable of neuroplasticity, based on experience, e.g., John Paul Scott, Early Experience And The Organization Of Behavior way back in 1968. What about the effects of enrichment on the brain? Rosensweig, Bennet and Diamond performed their classic experiments with rats back in the early 70s. Animals were raised in either a standard, “impoverished,” environment or an “enriched” environment that provided objects to explore and interact with. The brains of enriched rats were thicker and denser than those of impoverished rats. Hence, circumstances in […]


We have known for quite some time that women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men. The obvious inference is that women live longer than men, on average (the current average age of death for women is 81 and men 76). Given that age is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, women are more likely to live long enough to show symptoms than men. But many studies have adjusted for age and it is clear that age is not the cause of this sex difference. Indeed, the risk for Alzheimer’s disease is twice that for women than men aged 70-79 but the same for those 80 and older. There is no clear explanation for this relationship. Despite having a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease, another interesting sex difference in memory is that healthy woman typically do better […]

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