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There’s a neat summary of the July 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® meeting here. The summary includes a look at an open-label extension study of IV Immunoglobulin therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease (with a pending Phase 3 study), a number of other intervention and prevention studies (including a Phase 2b study for a partial alpha-7 Nicotinic agonist), a study clarifying the relationship of various patterns of alcohol consumption to subsequent cognitive decline, the beneficial effects of exercise in delaying cognitive decline in one study (including an important role for resistance training), gait associations with cognitive decline and various widely reported studies that looked into the relationship between sleep pattern and cognitive decline.
The Alzheimer’s Research Forum has an interesting post on how the difficult issue of genetic testing in Alzheimer’s Disease might be approached. There are a number of genes associated with Early and Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. For one of these genes, APOE4, the researchers are trying to work out if it is effective to test a person for a variant of this gene and to disclose this information. Both genes and the environment have an effect on the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. Giving people information about the gene variants when other factors may play a more significant role in their risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may cause distress. This study – the REVEAL IV study – will help the researchers begin to answer the question of whether assessment and disclosure of this gene is helpful in specific circumstances.
Professor Dennis Selkoe Discussed the APOE4 Gene and Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers looked at people with Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder in this small study. They used an MRI technique to evaluate the synchronisation between brain regions. Using an approach known as voxel mirrored homotopic connectivity, the researchers found that the subjects with Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder had less synchronicity in activity between several brain regions. These included the Declive of the Cerebellum and the Thalamus. This was a small study and there are many subtypes of Schizophrenia as well as biological associations.
New Scientist has an article on Watston, an IBM computer which is being developed as a virtual physician’s assistant. Watson is programmed with skills in analysing natural language and uses this in decision making.
The science of study is covered at Scientific American by psychologist Professor Willingham. There is a brief mention of different methods for learning new material – Professor Willingham writes that rereading and underlining material are less effective than intermittent quizzing about the material.
Languages have their origin in Anatolia, Turkey according to this widely reported study. There are two main theories for language spread. One states that the Proto-IndoEuropean (PIE) language originated in the Steppes of Central Asia and the other that it began with the pastoral peoples in Turkey. This study uses data about the geographical range of language as well as other variables and predicted an origin for PIE in Anatolia which interestingly also fits with evidence for the origins of agriculture. However there is criticism from an opponent of this theory in the link above.
Gibbons were able to modify their vocal calls when given Helium in much the same way as sopranos do in this study.
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