Another brick in the wall against aging brain matters

Dancing keeps brain’s white matter together The alternative is that as you get older, the white matter in your brain gets thinner, and there goes a lot of your higher functions.

Dancing can keep you young at Heart?  At any rate, it can’t hurt. Unless you’re dancing on the edge of a razor, perhaps.

http://source.colostate.edu/study-dancing-may-offset-effects-aging-brain.

Just trying to clear up some space in my outbox.

What are we going to do tonight, Brain?

Same thing we do every night, Pinkie – SING!!!

Okay, if you caught the reference to Pinkie and the Brain, you probably already like to do stuff that stimulates the neurons with witty references to arcane bits of history, pop culture, and the like. So you won’t be terribly disappointed if I caper about with just a few links to reports on and research on how singing benefits the brain and the lives of those who sing.

http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4448634.stm

How singing makes you happy  (summary article and its sources below:

Can Music provoke involuntary body responses?  Now I’ve heard everything – using music to provoke salivation!

 

I’ve got a (gut) feeling…

Here’s a sample of links to Gut Microbiota For Health’s website and some of the research articles they’ve published, mostly in the last year. One talks about the linkage between certain bacteria and motor system disorders, another about relief for constipation for Parkinson’s patients, Another is a compilation of several articles, and finally, an article that explores the gut to brain relation regarding Parkinson’s, and to top it all off, the relationship of the bacteria in your stomach to the chemicals in your brain, and how the various microbial communities communicate. Life goes on within you and without you, it would seem.

Eat now, exercise later, protect against insulin insensitivity – and more news!

From Medical News Today:

 “Harm from a weeks overeating may be canceled by exercise”

That’s the limit to the good news, though. The article also reports that even occasional binging can cause problems, and a week of overeating could have a negative effect on insulin sensitivity. Exercise could protect against this metabolic damage.

 For certain, a lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet have been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome. The article is at this link: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313881.php

related article “Healthy living linked to higher brain function, delay of dementia

A diet high in vegetables and fruits leads to better cognitive functioning, and when combined with exercise, the effect is extended downwards to those who reported eating half as many vegetables.

the original research article is at http://jpubhealth.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/10/28/pubmed.fdw113

 In other news…

Mayo Clinic researchers found that it only takes 1 mutation in the PINK1 gene to increase the risk of early onslaught PD. Until this report, it had been thought you needed to have 2 mutated genes to make it happen.  Here are links to the pages:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/313885.php or

Heterozygous PINK1 p.G411S increases risk of Parkinson’s disease via a dominant-negative mechanism

 

 

Genetic risk for Early Onslaught Parkinson’s upped by PINK1 variation

Single mutation in recessive gene increases risk of earlier onset Parkinson’s disease

“A collaboration of 32 researchers in seven countries, led by scientists at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida, has found a genetic mutation they say confers a risk for development of Parkinson’s disease earlier than usual.

The major study, published in Brain, is important because the risk comes from a single mutation in the PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) gene. Investigators had believed that this rare form of Parkinson’s developed only when a person inherited mutations in both PINK1 alleles (one from each parent).”

 You can download a copy of the original research article at this link: Heterozygous PINK1 p.G411S increases risk of Parkinson’s disease via a dominant-negative mechanism

 

Standing up can reveal cognitive difficulties.

Unmasking cognitive deficits by standing up

Published at the end of November 2016, the linked article found that folks with orthostatic hypotension revealed more cognitive deficits on standing up than when measured sitting down or lying down.

Since most cognitive tests are administered while the subject is sitting or lying down,  cognitive difficulties faced in day to day living might be underestimated.

Participants with PD and OH were far more susceptible to posture-related impairment on several tests, including those that measured math skills, the ability to produce words easily, keeping information in mind while working on it, paying sufficient attention so that later memory is efficient and searching for items quickly and accurately.

Diet as medicine for depression

Medscape reports on a new study from Australia which apparently shows that eating healthy can be good for the mood as well as the pocketbook.

Two researchers, Felice Jacka and Michael Berk, led a consortium of Australian Institutions based at the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia. Over 3 years, they recruited several hundred patients with moderate to severe depression and entered 67 into a 12-week parallel group trial. The treatment group received seven 60-minute sessions of dietary counselling. The parallel control group received a matching social support protocol. All but nine of the 67 participants were receiving another active treatment—either psychotherapy, medications, or both. . . .

… participants were implored to increase consumption of foods in 12 food categories. The food categories, as you may guess, included whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, and lean meats, chicken, and seafood, and to decrease consumption of foods that are correlated with a higher risk for depression: empty carbohydrates, refined starches, and highly processed foods. . . .

. . . The outcome was quite robust. The researchers found a statistically significant 7.1-point difference on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) in favor of the treatment group, which was their primary outcome. The researchers extrapolated that there was a 2.2-point reduction in the MADRS for every 10% adherence to the healthier dietary pattern.. . .

. . . They developed that pattern, which they called the Modified Mediterranean Diet, or the Modi-Medi Diet, by combining recommendations from the Australian government and the Greek government, and data from an earlier analysis by Felice Jacka and her colleagues[2] that determined which dietary factors played the largest role in fighting depression with diet. . . .

source of quoted excerpts:  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/875236

Will Parkinson’s be diagnosed by a simple sample of blood in the near future?

A step towards more accurate diagnoses of Parkinson’s and other similar neurological diseases was recently reported in Nature. And by CNN which picked up the story: Parkinsons disease blood test study

Up until now, many diseases have been diagnosed based on symptoms, with patients asking, “How do you know I have this?” Meanwhile, doctors are not always correct, Wright said. This is true even of Parkinson’s, which is diagnosed based on symptoms, a patient’s history, neurological exams, a patient’s response to medicine and, in some cases, brain imaging tests.

As a person with Parkinson’s among other conditions, related or unrelated, this would be a big deal. When a diagnosis is based on having a specific array of symptoms, some of which might not be present in all cases (tremors, for instance), one wonders whether medications for reducing certain symptoms might not prevent the presentation of all the symptoms required for a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

It does me little good to play “what if” since one doesn’t know how one would have reacted to an earlier diagnosis at an earlier age. One can only refer to Victor Frankl’s work on the search for meaning in our lives, and approach the present as though one has already been at this decision point and are being given a second chance to make a decision just as wrong as the original decision. At least that’s how I remember that particular quote.  Here’s another quote from Frankl:

the meaning of life always changes, but that it never ceases to be. According to logotherapy, we can discover this meaning in life in three different
ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or
encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable
suffering. The first, the way of achievement or accomplishment, is quite obvious.

Contributing data for scientific research

Got my genome sequenced by the folks at 23andMe, and consented to having my data used in research studies. As a result, some new genetic sites have been identified through the sifting of the aggregate data of other folks like or unlike me.

We humans are pattern identifying organisms. So if you have Parkinson’s but not one of the gene mutations/variations known to “cause” the disease, it is only natural that we would look for correlations and associations that might also result in Parkinsonism.  So scientists mine the DNA data of thousands of people with Parkinson’s and find some additional markers

DNA and Parkinson’s – discovery by association

A related article

Not having been trained in the field, I think in broader terms – for instance, if 50% of depression diagnoses eventually become PD cases, and 25% of essential tremor cases result in Parkinson’s cases, doesn’t it stand to reason that a person with depression and essential tremors will have a greater than 50% chance of developing Parkinson’s, assuming their lifetime is long enough?  Or would it be greater than 75%? It would be interesting to see a Venn diagram of overlapping diagnoses…