Keeping dementia at bay: Column

This has been a month of good news for two of my annoying habits.

The first is my penchant to watch sappy films from Indonesia. I lived in the country after college, and the films help me keep up my Indonesian language skills. A recent review of hundreds of dementia sufferers in India finds that dementia among speakers of multiple languages comes, on average, four years later than it does to people with dementia who are monolingual. Prior studies had found a similar phenomenon, but the new study shows that multilingualism likely postpones dementia regardless of a person’s class or formal education.

My next habit, forgive me, is singing along to musicals. A paper read this month at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego finds that when nursing home patients with Alzheimer’s disease sing along to The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz, they score better on measures of their cognitive abilities.

Monetary, emotional toll

The good news on dementia is a welcome tonic against some overwhelmingly frightening facts. Because we are adding, on average, at least two years to our lifespan every decade, we are all more prone to dementia. One’s chances of dementia double every five years after age 65; one of every two Americans older than 85 is afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

Full story of dementia at USA Today

Concussions: Even one can change the brain, study finds

Concussions Changing the BrainEven a single concussion appears to cause changes in the structure of the brain that may make cognitive problems and depression a higher likelihood, a new study has found.

The study, which used magnetic resonance imaging to compare healthy subjects’ brains with those of patients a year after a mild traumatic brain injury, indicated that those with such injuries had shrinkage in brain regions that are key to memory, executive function and mood regulation.

The study, published online in the journal Radiology on Tuesday, is the first to show that even a single concussion can leave measurable scars on the brain. It used three-dimensional MRI scanning to measure the brain volume of 28 recent concussion victims and 22 matched controls. A year later, researchers conducted the same scans of 19 patients with mild traumatic brain injuries and 12 of a healthy control group.

Full story of concussions and the brain at the Los Angeles Times

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