Depression and Risk for Dementia

An article authored by a group at the University of Pittsburgh today published an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry confirming and extending our 2006 paper in the Archives of General Psychiatry showing that depression is related to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. Our previous paper showed that having …

Concentration

Maria Konnikova posts an interesting article in this past Sunday’s New York Times on the effects of undivided attention and mindfulness. In her post, she links concentration to Sherlock Holmes (perhaps because that’s a link to her forthcoming book), but she provides a nice if brief review of some of …

Strength Training and the Brain

Lots of evidence points to the usefulness of aerobic exercise for maintaining and improving mental functioning (see a previous blog post here and an extensive review article here). It is not as clear, though, whether strength training has an effect. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that even a …

Eating for Brain Fitness

A lot has been written on the Web about eating for brain fitness. Almost anyone might want to know if one magic food can make your mind clear and keep your memory sharp. When it comes to eating, there are no magic bullets, but studies give us some direction. First, …

Recent Articles:

Depression and Risk for Dementia

Hispanic Woman

An article authored by a group at the University of Pittsburgh today published an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry confirming and extending our 2006 paper in the Archives of General Psychiatry showing that depression is related to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. Our previous paper showed that having a diagnosis of depression increased someone’s risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The new study includes studies we didn’t include and expands the analysis to include risk for vascular dementia, a type of dementia related to problems with the blood vessels in the brain.

A post on the New York Times blog “The New Old Age” puts the studies in context and explains what they mean — thanks to Judith Graham for her cogent explanation of the importance of the new study. She quotes me as well as co-author David Loewenstein on the meaning of the new study. You can read her article here.

You can find the abstract of the new study here. (You need a subscription to read the full article.)

Our original paper in the Archives is available in a slightly different version (but full text) here.

Strength Training and the Brain

Gray haired woman lifting weight

Lots of evidence points to the usefulness of aerobic exercise for maintaining and improving mental functioning (see a previous blog post here and an extensive review article here). It is not as clear, though, whether strength training has an effect. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that even a modest amount of resistance training (60 minutes two times a week for 6 months) can improve cognitive function in older women with evidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is defined as a condition in which persons have clear evidence of below average cognitive function in an area such as memory and in addition report that they have memory difficulties. It’s considered an important condition in part because people with MCI are believed to be an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

While other studies have shown that resistance training can help cognitive functioning, this study compared strength training with aerobic exercise (walking) and a less intense “balance and tone” intervention. The authors also studied the impact of their interventions on the brain using functional MRI (fMRI). Results showed that strength training was associated with improvements in cognitive function on several study measures, including an executive function measure (the Stroop task) and a memory task. In a subgroup of people who completed fMRI, the strength training was associated with changes in brain function during mental activity. The authors conclude that strength training can help to improve cognitive function in women with MCI, and may be a useful strategy in helping maintain cognitive function in persons at risk for decline.

Reference:

Nagamatsu, LS et al. (2012). Resistance training promotes cognitive and functional brain plasticity in seniors with probable mild cognitive impairment. JAMA Internal Medicine, 172, 666-668. Full article available without charge here.

Brain Fitness

Depression and Risk for Dementia

Hispanic Woman

An article authored by a group at the University of Pittsburgh today published an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry confirming and extending our 2006 paper in the Archives of General Psychiatry showing that depression is related to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. Our previous paper showed that having …

Strength Training and the Brain

Gray haired woman lifting weight

Lots of evidence points to the usefulness of aerobic exercise for maintaining and improving mental functioning (see a previous blog post here and an extensive review article here). It is not as clear, though, whether strength training has an effect. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that even a …

Concentration

Old book pen magnifier

Maria Konnikova posts an interesting article in this past Sunday’s New York Times on the effects of undivided attention and mindfulness. In her post, she links concentration to Sherlock Holmes (perhaps because that’s a link to her forthcoming book), but she provides a nice if brief review of some of …

Cognitive Lifestyle and Neuroprotection

man thinking

A study from earlier this year sheds light on how being mentally active may confer protection for cognitive decline. Michael Valenzuela is a researcher whose work focuses on understanding the links between mental activity over someone’s entire life and their later function. In previous studies, he and his colleagues have …

Physical Activity and How Long You Live

Man riding a bicycle in a race

Lots of research has shown that, at least over short periods of time, people who are physically active are more alert, remember things better, and are in better health. But does that mean that they live longer?  A recent review article looked at this question. The authors found 13 papers …

RSS Worry and GAD Blog

  • 5 More Steps to Cope with Irritability
    This is a cross posting from my brain fitness blog. As it turns out, worry is probably bad for your brain fitness, so coping with worry not only can improve your mood but may also help improve your thinking and memory. Here the post: Irritability means letting small things that happen to all of us […]
  • Three Ways to Deal with Unconstructive Repetitive Thoughts
    Several researchers have shown that negative mood, anxiety, and distress can be associated with cognitive decline. Wilson and his colleague Patricia Boyle (both at Rush in Chicago) have shown with data from the Religious Orders Study that persons who are chronically distressed have a greater chance of cognitive decline. At the Cognitive Aging Summit (sponsor […]
  • Brain Fitness and The Mind of a Monk
    the contrast between Tibetan monks’ apparent calm, evident even on brain scans, and her own anxiety disorder. Ms. Warner says that she suffers from panic disorder, […]