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:

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…

Dance for Parkinson’s – some links/citations

Just posting some links to materials on dance as therapy.

MJFF blog Feb 1, on Dance for Parkinson’s

Music as medicine

Music is inherent to humanity, it would seem, and yet it still is news to rediscover this most primal of instincts helps build healthy brains and bodies.

Case in point: Pam Quinn a teacher of exorcise and dance. She bookends this video with a solo demonstration and a group follow-the-leader exercise: ACRM with Pamela Quinn and Ben Folds

Nice little demo of music as language in the middle of this longish video in which the President of the ACRM trades melodic and rhythmic phrases with Ben Folds at the piano.

(Onwards and upwards, as Aldous Huxley  wrote in Time Must Have A Stop.) 


Music means better QOL in the workplace

“Smarter living” is what the New York Times calls it. How music makes employees more productive.

In biological terms, melodious sounds help encourage the release of dopamine in the reward area of the brain, as would eating a delicacy, looking at something appealing or smelling a pleasant aroma, said Dr. Amit Sood, a physician of integrative medicine with the Mayo Clinic.

Since Parkinson’s is related to the death of dopamine releasing cells, it stands to reason that producing dopamine would exercise the neurons that are left, perhaps delay the progression, slow it down perhaps. Obviously this would be a good thing for folks to research.

the article goes on to discuss some workplace research:

Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami. Dr. Lesiuk’s research focuses on how music affects workplace performance. In one study involving information technology specialists, she found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood.

Perhaps. I always used instrumental music at work to keep the right brain occupied while the left brain worked on logic and math aspects of the job. Verbal interruptions, or vocal music, did not seem to be as helpful as straight instrumental music. It’s a theory, of sorts.

True story: Once, while listening to a piece of music on the local public radio station during their request hour, I got a hankering to call them up and request Death and Transfiguration by Richard Strauss. The DJ seemed a little irritated by my request. It was what I was listening to that very moment, I was informed. I was a bit amused. I had just turned on the radio a little while ago and hadn’t heard the introduction to the recording. I guessed that my brain was trying to tell me something, but I didn’t quite get the message.

Richard Strauss: Death and Transfiguration


One more cup of coffee for the road

It seems that caffeine and therefore coffee can have a neuro-protective effect for Parkinson’s people.
CDC site article on Parkinson’s, Genomics and Coffee:

Here’s a guy who probably won’t be getting PD, if coffee and nicotine protect one against Parkinson’s. (I drank a lot of coffee in my day, but quit smoking early, after getting strep throat and then bronchitis within the course of a few months. Figured my body was trying to tell me something.)