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  • A very large online study has found that doing word puzzles regularly protects against age-related cognitive decline.

Data from more than 17,000 healthy people aged 50 and over has revealed that the more regularly participants engaged with word puzzles, the better they performed on tasks assessing attention, reasoning and memory.

  • A largish study for its type indicates that hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle have no impact on working memory, multitasking ability, or cognitive bias.

A study involving 88 women, some of whom had endocrinological disorders, has found that, while some hormones were associated with changes across one menstrual cycle in some of the women taking part, these effects didn't repeat in the following cycle.

  • A study has found that having more than one illustration results in poorer word learning among pre-schoolers — but this can be mitigated if the reader draws the pre-schooler’s attention to each illustration.

When you're reading a picture book to a very young child, it's easy to think it's obvious what picture, or part of a picture, is being talked about. But you know what all the words mean.

Several studies suggest that post-operative cognitive decline in older adults is due to several factors:

  • the stress of hospitalization, if unexpected
  • brain inflammation caused by an immune response from the brain’s microglia
  • post-operative delirium.

It also seems that higher levels of cognitive function, higher levels of engagement in certain cognitive activities, and better cerebrovascular health, all protect against such decline.

Unplanned hospitalizations accelerate cognitive decline in older adults

Data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project has found that emergency and urgent hospitalizations are associated with an increased rate of cognitive decline in older adults.

  • Even quick and not particularly skilled sketches make simple information significantly more likely to be remembered, probably because drawing incorporates several factors that are known to improve memorability.

In a series of experiments involving college students, drawing pictures was found to be the best strategy for remembering lists of words.

  • While handgrip strength has been linked to dementia risk in the elderly, a new study indicates that less impaired or fragile older adults need upper and lower body strength tests — but that these, too, are correlated with cognitive function.

A Finnish study involving 338 older adults (average age 66) has found that greater muscle strength is associated with better cognitive function.

  • A large study indicates that an inclination to dizziness on standing up is associated with a greater risk of developing cognitive impairment and dementia decades later.

Data from over 11,500 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) cohort has found evidence that orthostatic hypotension in middle age may increase the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia 20 years later.

  • A single instance of retrieval, right after learning, is enough to significantly improve your memory, and stop the usual steep forgetting curve for non-core information.

A study involving 60 undergraduate students confirms the value of even a single instance of retrieval practice in an everyday setting, and also confirms the value of cues for peripheral details, which are forgotten more readily.

  • The simple act of repeating something to another person helps you remember it, more than if you just repeated it to yourself.

A Canadian study involving French-speaking university students has found that repeating aloud, especially to another person, improves memory for words.

  • Brain scans of healthy young adults found that higher aerobic fitness was associated with greater hippocampal elasticity, which was a better predictor of cognitive performance than hippocampal volume.

A new MRI technique has revealed that it is the structural integrity of the

  • A comparison of non-interactive electronic books and their print counterparts has found that toddlers learned more from the electronic books, but this was accounted for by their greater attention and engagement.

A new issue for parents to stress over is the question of whether reading digital books with your toddler or preschooler is worse than reading traditional print books.

  • A review of research has confirmed the benefits of at least moderate exercise to fight age-related cognitive decline, with different benefits for aerobic exercise and strength training.

A review of 39 studies investigating the effect of exercise on cognition in older adults (50+) confirms that physical exercise does indeed improve cognitive function in the over 50s, regardless of their cognitive status.

  • A review of research has concluded that even a single bout of physical activity can have significant positive effects on people's mood and cognitive functions.

An extensive review of research looking at the effects of a single bout of exercise has concluded that:

  • When a particular fat molecule in the brain doesn't break down properly, cognition gets harder, and there's an increase in amyloid precursor proteins (which are part of the Alzheimer's cascade).
  • Tau proteins are also involved in the Alzheimer's cascade. A new study shows that individuals vary markedly in how quickly they spread in the brain.
  • A protein called SIRT6 has now been found to be crucially involved in DNA repair, to be severely deficient in those with Alzheimer's, and to be associated with learning impairment in mice.
  • A protein called NPTX2 may explain why some brains can cope with high levels of amyloid-beta much better than others.

Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain involved in Alzheimer’s?

  • A cognitive test has been shown to identify early shrinking of the brain region first affected by Alzheimer's.

A Canadian study involving 40 older adults (59-81), none of whom were aware of any major memory problems, has found that those scoring below 26 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) dementia screening test also showed shrinking of the anterolateral

  • Regular exercise has been found to reduce brain shrinkage in those with mild cognitive impairment.

A study involving 35 adults with

  • A small study found that low-intensity exercise significantly boosted activation in the visual cortex above what occurred during rest or high-intensity exercise.

A study involving 18 volunteers who performed a simple orientation discrimination while on a stationary bicycle, has found that low-intensity exercise boosted activation in the visual cortex, compared with activation levels when at rest or during high-intensity exercise.

  • A new estimation technique has raised the dementia rates for Australian women from 20% to 26%.

In Australia, it has beens estimated that 9% of people aged over 65, and 30% of those aged over 85 have dementia. However, these estimates are largely based on older data from other countries, or small local samples.

  • It seems clear now that a substantial decline in sense of smell is a very early sign of developing MCI and Alzheimer's.
  • Several tests have been developed to assess this.
  • It should always be remembered that there is substantial difference between individuals in their 'natural' sense of smell, and this needs to be taken into account in any test.

In the past few months, several studies have come out showing the value of three different tests of people's sense of smell for improving the accuracy of

  • An animal study shows that following learning with a novel experience makes the learning stronger.
  • A human study shows that giving information positive associations improves your memory for future experiences with similar information.

We know that the


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