Monday, 29 October 2012

Possibly the most exciting research into dementia so far

It's not new. I've posted previously about the nuns' study:

I have found an article that explains, more clearly than ever, why this research should receive so much more attention:

Perhaps the single most important conclusion from the study is that Alzheimer disease is not straight forward. In several cases, pathology studies of brain tissue from the deceased nuns did not correlate with their performance on cognitive function tests. Sometimes the pathologist would score a brain as having signs of extremely advanced AD, only to learn later that the nun herself scored extremely well on all cognitive tests. Other times a brain would show only slight damage associated with AD, and the nun was characterized as exhibiting the signs of advanced cognitive decline and dementia.

I often wonder whether there is anything new from this study. Apparently the original researcher has retired but the University of Minnesota is hoping to continue the work:

Additionally, the University of Minnesota has announced that it will begin a second study, with a new group of volunteer nuns, to delve further into the mysteries of Alzheimer disease: Why do some people develop symptoms and not others? Why do some people with advanced brain damage: plaques, tangles and tissue loss, not show any symptoms, while others with minimal brain damage show symptoms of advanced AD?

How odd that these questions are so rarely referred to in discussions of the disease!

Here's a link to the article:

1 comment:

  1. In a relatively new book by a medical writer called something like 100 Ways to Prevent alzheimers nad other Dementias, the writer calls this "mental reserve" and suggests that people who Use their brians alot, doing puzzles, googling, learning new things like taking art lessons, learning new languages, etc., have built up a reserve that masks the symptoms, and she refers to the nuns study. Thought you might be interested.