'White matter lesions' affect cognitive ability in elderly

Age-related changes in the brain — the appearance, starting around age 60, of “white-matter lesions” among the brain’s message-carrying axons — significantly affect cognitive function in old age. White-matter lesions are small bright patches that show up on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. What’s more, hypertension may account for some of this cognitive impact. A full report on these relationships appears in the March issue of Psychology and Aging, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Scientists Map How Alzheimer’s Disease Systematically Engulfs the Brain

UCLA and University of Queensland (Australia) neuroscientists using a powerful new imaging analysis technique have created the first three-dimensional video maps showing how Alzheimer’s disease systematically engulfs the brains of living patients. The findings appear in the Feb. 1 edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Neuroscience. The dramatic time-lapse videos show the sequential destruction of brain areas that control memory function, then emotion and inhibition, and finally sensation. They also show how the disease spares small brain regions that control vision and other functions that remain intact in Alzheimer’s patients

Scientists ID brain regions where nicotine affects attention, cognitive skills

Nicotine administration in humans is known to sharpen attention and to slightly enhance memory. Now scientists, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have identified those areas of the brain where nicotine exerts its effects on cognitive skills. Their findings suggest that nicotine improves attention in smokers by enhancing activation in the posterior cortical and subcortical regions of the brain–areas traditionally associated with visual attention, arousal, and motor activation. This study provides the first evidence that nicotine-induced enhancement of parietal cortex activation is associated with improved attention.

MRI can predict heart attack risk

Researchers have shown that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can predict the risk of heart attacks or cardiac deaths in coronary heart disease patients, according to a report in today?s rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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