Saturday, 28 June 2014

Some interesting ideas from Oxford

My daughter-in-law in law spotted this article and very kindly sent it to me:

Most of the interesting article is about how Oxford University is trying to co-ordinate its research into dementia and bring together different disciplines with an interest in dementia:

Approaches to dementia, Mackay explains, have hitherto been fragmented between the different disciplines of gerontology, neurology and psychiatry — the latter two branches of cognitive science having diverged more markedly in the UK than in other countries. OxDARE aims to enable a more holistic approach, with the emphasis on translational neuroscience. This process of ‘translation’ involves bridging the gap between research laboratories and clinical settings, bringing science ‘from bench to bedside’ as Mackay puts it. 

This looks like a promising approach.

Another thought-provoking extract:

While dementia is chiefly associated with memory loss, it can involve cognitive impairment of all sorts, and ultimately describes a set of symptoms rather than a single disease. Psychologists are still debating whether there is a difference in kind rather than degree between dementia and regular old-age memory loss, which comes to us all. Since the physical differences in the brain that define Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease are currently visible only upon autopsy, much research is being devoted to finding ‘markers’, from brain scans or blood tests, which will bring forward the point of diagnosis.

For now, there remains an uncomfortable, but ultimately humanising, sense that we are all subject to those small but significant memory lapses – magnified in the endearing stereotype of the scatty Professor – that place us somewhere on the same continuum as those who suffer from conditions such as Alzheimer’s. We owe it to those who are further down that line to name and face the reality of dementia, and give the research endeavour our fullest support. 

One cannot help agreeing with the conclusion.

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