Daily Archives: January 5, 2017

Neurogaming: Is This a Treatment Modality?

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, Director of the Neuroscape Lab at UC San Francisco gives a talk on ‘Neurogaming: A Vision for the Future’. This video upload is dated March 2016.

Dr Gazzaley makes an interesting point that we have specialised equipment for physical skills (e.g. the gym) so why not for cognitive and social skills?*

Dr Gazzaley suggests that we can use games for the purpose of developing cognitive skills. Games are thought to be engaging and expected to improve concordance with treatment utilising this technology. One of the key goals of this – which effectively is a form of brain training – is the principle of generalisation. Playing a game for the purpose of becoming skilled at that game alone without generalisation isn’t a useful goal for treatment (although there are some that might disagree!).

This is a very interesting talk with a lot of evidence being discussed. The only drawback was that the slides weren’t visible for parts of the talk although Dr Gazzaley talks us through the slides and many other slides were clearly presented.

Dr Gazzaley’s lab have taken considerable time to develop games and then test them, so the presentation is a distillation of many years of research. There is also a Q&A session at the end.

* (the caveat being that physical activity can have a beneficial effect on cognitive skills so there is an interconnectedness here)

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Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

Conflicts of Interest: *For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.

Does the Brain Shrink Less with Age with the Mediterranean Diet?

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Luciano and colleagues have published an open access article in the Journal Neurology titled ‘Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural change from 73 to 76 years in a Scottish cohort‘.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

As the name suggests, the originates in the Mediterranean region. NHS Choices have  a good summary of the diet here.

What was the research question?

The researchers were looking to see if there was a link between the Mediterranean diet and longitudinal measures of (a) Total brain volume (b) Gray matter volume (c) Cortical thickness.

What did the researchers measure?

The researchers measured (a) Adherence to the Mediterranean diet using a protocol for extracting data from a standardised food questionnaire (b) MRI volume measurements involving subtraction of various non-relevant structures (e.g cervical spine) (c) Sophisticated MR image processing to estimate cortical thickness. This was measured in a cohort of Scottish subjects. 401 were included for the brain volumes and 346 for cortical thickness. The participants were aged between 73 and 76 and had commenced the study at age 70.

What were the results?

The researchers found that adherence to the Mediterrean diet was

(a) Linked to reduced total brain atrophy

(b) Not linked to cortical thickness

(c) Not linked to gray matter volume

The researchers also found no correlation between fish or meat consumption and total brain volume, gray matter volume or cortical thickness

What are the Implications?

I found it slightly disappointing that no relationship was found with grey matter volume although this doesn’t imply that no relationship exists. For example, a previous study in a younger population did find a relationship. However the study adds to the evidence for a beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet on the brain – specifically in this case in terms of reduced atrophy.

Full Citation Details

‘Mediterranean-type diet and brain structural change from 73 to 76 years in a Scottish cohort’.

Michelle Luciano, PhD, Janie Corley, PhD, Simon R. Cox, PhD, Maria C. Valdés Hernández, PhD, Leone C.A. Craig, PhD, David Alexander Dickie, PhD, Sherif Karama, MD, PhD, Geraldine M. McNeill, PhD, Mark E. Bastin, PhD, Joanna M. Wardlaw, MD, FRCP, FRCR and Ian J. Deary, PhD’

‘Published online before print January 4, 2017, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000003559
Neurology 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003559’

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here

Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link.

TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link.

Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk.

Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

Conflicts of Interest: *For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.