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Sleep behavior disorder linked to brain disease

Researchers at the University of Toronto say a sleep disorder that causes people to act out their dreams is the best current predictor of brain diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

"Rapid-eye-movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is not just a precursor but also a critical warning sign of neurodegeneration that can lead to brain disease," says associate professor and lead author Dr. John Peever. "In fact, as many as 80 to 90 per cent of people with RBD will develop a brain disease".

As the name suggests, the disturbance occurs during the rapid-eye-movement (REM) stage of sleep and causes people to act out their dreams, often resulting in injury to themselves and/or bed partner. In healthy brains, muscles are temporarily paralyzed during sleep to prevent this from happening.

Several forms of vitamin E protect against memory disorders, study says

Elderly people with high serum vitamin E levels are less likely to suffer from memory disorders than their peers with lower levels, according to a study published recently in Experimental Gerontology. According to the researchers, various forms of vitamin E seem to play a role in memory processes. The study was carried out in cooperation between the University of Eastern Finland, the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, Karolinska Institute, and the University of Perugia.

Studies investigating the link between vitamin E and memory disorders have usually focused on a single form of vitamin E, namely α-tocopherol, which is also used in vitamin E supplements. However, vitamin E exists in eight different natural forms, tocopherols and tocotrienols, all of which have antioxidant properties.

Cancer Cases Could Rise in 20 Years

Scientists at the World Health Organization have called for immediate action to combat a ‘tidal wave of cancer’ that will sweep the globe in the next 20 years.

The number of new cancer cases worldwide will rise by 70 per cent from 14.1 million in 2012 to 24 million in 2035, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in their latest World Cancer Report.

The future global burden of cancer will increasingly shift to poorer countries, WHO said, but it added that half of all world cancers are now preventable with existing medical knowledge and expertise.

Annual deaths from cancer will almost double in the same time period from 8.2 million to 14.6 million.

One of the report’s editors, Doctor Bernard Stewart from the University of New South Wales in Australia, said that modifications to human behavior, such as reducing alcohol consumption, would play a “crucial role in combating the tidal wave of cancer which we see coming across the world”.

“In relation to alcohol, for example, we’re all aware of the acute effects, whether it’s car accidents or assaults,” he said. “But there’s a burden of disease that’s not talked about because it’s simply not recognized, specifically involving cancer.

Less developed countries will see an increase in cancer incidence – the number of new cases per year – of 44 per cent in the next decade, whereas in richer countries, incidence rates will only increase by 20 per cent.

The inequalities are largely down to varying levels of access to both cancer treatments and preventative healthcare – such as screening programs and vaccines for cancers caused by infections like the human papilloma virus (HPV). However, the gap between countries will widen as people in less developed nations increasingly adopt “industrialized lifestyles” – smoking and drinking more, and eating more highly processed food.

Dr Christopher Wild, director of IARC and co-editor of the World Cancer Report 2014 said it was clear the world would never “treat its way out of cancer” and emphasized the role that prevention should play in years to come.

Smoking is responsible for around 20 per cent of all cancers globally and lung cancers are the most common form of cancer in the world, accounting for 13 per cent of all cases and 19 per cent of all cancer deaths.

Source: Reuters

B.N

Music therapy may help depression

Music therapy can be used to improve treatment of depression, at least in the short term, say researchers in Finland.

The technique used non-verbal communication to help patients express their emotions.

A study on 79 people, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, showed a greater improvement than in patients receiving standard therapy.

British experts said music may engage people in ways that words cannot.

Music therapists are used, including by the NHS, to help children who struggle to communicate. Playing instruments and singing with a trained music therapist is supposed to help children express themselves.

Initial improvement

In this study, all patients with depression received the standard practice of counselling and appropriate medication. Thirty three of them were also given 20 sessions with a trained music therapist, which involved things such as drumming.

After three months, patients receiving music therapy showed a greater improvement in scores of anxiety and depression than the other set of patients.

However, there was no statistical improvement after six months.

Professor Christian Gold, from the University of Jyväskylä, said: "Our trial has shown that music therapy, when added to standard care helps people to improve their levels of depression and anxiety."

"Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a non-verbal way - even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences.

Dr Mike Crawford, who specialises in mental health services at Imperial College London, said in a journal editorial: "The results suggest that it can improve the mood and general functioning of people with depression.

"Music-making is social, pleasurable and meaningful. It has been argued that music making engages people in ways that words may simply not be able to.

Source : BBC

N.H.Khider

Psychologists document the age our earliest memories fade

Although infants use their memories to learn new information, few adults can remember events in their lives that happened prior to the age of three. Psychologists have now documented that age seven is when these earliest memories tend to fade into oblivion, a phenomenon known as "childhood amnesia." The study is the first empirical demonstration of the onset of childhood amnesia, and involved interviewing children about past events in their lives.

What's your earliest surviving memory?

Although infants use their memories to learn new information, few adults can remember events in their lives that happened prior to the age of three. Psychologists at Emory University have now documented that age seven is when these earliest memories tend to fade into oblivion, a phenomenon known as "childhood amnesia."

The journal Memory published the research, which involved interviewing children about past events in their lives, starting at age three. Different subsets of the group of children were then tested for recall of these events at ages five, six, seven, eight and nine.

"Our study is the first empirical demonstration of the onset of childhood amnesia," says Emory psychologist Patricia Bauer, who led the study. "We actually recorded the memories of children, and then we followed them into the future to track when they forgot these memories."

The study's co-author is Marina Larkina, a manager of research projects for Emory's Department of Psychology.

The Bauer Memory Development Lab focuses on how episodic, or autobiographical memory, changes through childhood and early adulthood.

"Knowing how autobiographical memory develops is critically important to understanding ourselves as psychic beings," Bauer says. "Remembering yourself in the past is how you know who you are today."

Scientists have long known, based on interviews with adults, that most people's earliest memories only go back to about age 3. Sigmund Freud coined the term "childhood amnesia" to describe this loss of memory from the infant years. Using his psychoanalytic theory, Freud made the controversial proposal that people were repressing their earliest memories due to their inappropriate sexual nature.

In recent years, however, growing evidence indicates that, while infants use memory to learn language and make sense of the world around them, they do not yet have the sophisticated neural architecture needed to form and hold onto more complex forms of memory.

 

Instead of relying on interviews with adults, as previous studies of childhood amnesia have done, the Emory researchers wanted to document early autobiographical memory formation, as well as the age of forgetting these memories.

The experiment began by recording 83 children at the age of three, while their mothers or fathers asked them about six events that the children had experienced in recent months, such as a trip to the zoo or a birthday party.

"We asked the parents to speak as they normally would to their children," Bauer says.

She gives a hypothetical example: "The mother might ask, 'Remember when we went to Chuck E. Cheese's for your birthday party?' She might add, 'You had pizza, didn't you?'"

The child might start recounting details of the Chuck E. Cheese experience or divert the conversation by saying something like, "Zoo!"

Some mothers might keep asking about the pizza, while another mother might say, "Okay, we went to the zoo, too. Tell me about that."

Parents who followed a child's lead in these conversations tended to elicit richer memories from their three-year-olds, Bauer says. "This approach also related to the children having a better memory of the event at a later age."

After recording these base memories, the researchers followed up with the children years later, asking them to recall the events that they recounted at age three. The study subjects were divided into five different groups, and each group of children returned only once to participate in the experiment, from the ages of five to nine.

While the children between the ages of five and seven could recall 63 to 72 percent of the events, the children who were eight and nine years old remembered only about 35 percent of the events.

"One surprising finding was that, although the five-and-six year-old children remembered a higher percentage of the events, their narratives of these events were less complete," Bauer says. "The older children remembered fewer events, but the ones they remembered had more detail."

Some reasons for this difference may be that memories that stick around longer may have richer detail associated with them and increasing language skills enable an older child to better elaborate the memory, further cementing it in their minds, Bauer says.

Young children tend to forget events more rapidly than adults do because they lack the strong neural processes required to bring together all the pieces of information that go into a complex autobiographical memory, she explains. "You have to learn to use a calendar and understand the days of the week and the seasons. You need to encode information about the physical location of the event. And you need development of a sense of self, an understanding that your perspective is different from that of someone else."

 

She uses an analogy of pasta draining in a colander to explain the difference between early childhood and adult memories.

"Memories are like orzo," she says, referring to the rice-grained-sized pasta, "little bits and pieces of neural encoding."

Young children's brains are like colanders with large holes trying to retain these little pieces of memory. "As the water rushes out, so do many of the grains of orzo," Bauer says. "Adults, however, use a fine net instead of a colander for a screen."

Now that Bauer has documented the onset of childhood amnesia, she hopes to hone in on the age that people acquire an adult memory system, which she believes is between the age of nine and the college years.

"We'd like to know more about when we trade in our colanders for a net," she says. "Between the ages of 9 and 18 is largely a no-man's land of our knowledge of how memory forms."

Source:Science Daily

N.H.Khidr