NHS announces £135m research fund for dementia, obesity and mental health

The government has announced £135m for an NHS partnership with universities, innovators and local authorities, in a bid to solve some of the biggest issues facing health and social care over the next five years, including dementia, obesity and mental health.

The move is part of the NHS Long Term Plan announced earlier this year by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock.

A total of fifteen partnerships across the UK, made up of NHS organisations, social care services, leading academics, innovators, and local authorities, have received funding through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “As the population grows and demand on the NHS increases, it is paramount we develop the next generation of technologies and improve the way we work to ensure the NHS continues to offer world-leading care.

“The UK has a proud history of cutting-edge health research and by supporting the great minds in health and social care, this funding has the potential to unlock solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare and revolutionise the way patients access treatments in the future.”

Previous NIHR projects include:

• An online tool to help people manage their long-term conditions from the comfort of their own home, saving the NHS £175 per patient

• The introduction of life-saving blood clotting treatment - Tranexamic Acid (TXA) - across all ambulance services in England to reduce bleeding in trauma patients.

• A home-based rehabilitation programme for people with heart failure that has been shown to significantly improve quality of life, lead to better health outcomes for patients and is cost-effective to deliver in the NHS.

Prof Chris Whitty, chief scientific adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care, said: "The unique local collective approach at each NIHR Applied Research Collaboration will support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local patients, and local health and care systems. The network will also be able to tackle health priorities at a national level.

“The 15 new NIHR Applied Research Collaborations will ensure that we grow applied health and care research in every region in England. The additional funding announced today means we will ensure that our world-leading research is turned into real benefits for patients to ensure the Applied Research Collaborations work together to have national-level impact.”


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Brush your teeth -- postpone Alzheimer's

You don't only avoid holes in your teeth by keeping good oral hygiene, researchers at the University of Bergen have discovered a clear connection between gum disease and Alzheimer´s disease.

The researchers have determined that gum disease (gingivitis) plays a decisive role in whether a person developes Alzheimer´s or not.

"We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain," says researcher Piotr Mydel at Broegelmanns Research Laboratory, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen (UiB).

The bacteria produces a protein that destroys nerve cells in the brain, which in turn leads to loss of memory and ultimately, Alzheimer´s.

Brush your teeth for better memory

Mydel points out that the bacteria is not causing Alzheimer´s alone, but the presence of these bacteria raise the risk for developing the disease substantially and are also implicated in a more rapid progression of the disease. However, the good news is that this study shows that there are some things you can do yourself to slow down Alzheimer´s.

"Brush your teeth and use floss." Mydel adds that it is important, if you have established gingivitis and have Alzheimer´s in your family, to go to your dentist regularly and clean your teeth properly.

New medicine being developed

Researchers have previously discovered that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain where theharmful enzymes they excrete can destroy the nerve cells in the brain. Now, for the first time, Mydel has DNA-evidence for this process from human brains. Mydel and his colleagues examined 53 persons with Alzheimer´s and discovered the enzyme in 96 per cent of the cases.According to Mydel, this knowledge gives researchers a possible new approach for attacking Alzheimer´s disease.

"We have managed to develop a drug that blocks the harmful enzymes from the bacteria, postponing the development of Alzheimer´s. We are planning to test this drug later this year, says Piotr Mydel.

Story Source:

Materials provided by The University of BergenNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Stephen S. Dominy, Casey Lynch, Florian Ermini, Malgorzata Benedyk, Agata Marczyk, Andrei Konradi, Mai Nguyen, Ursula Haditsch, Debasish Raha, Christina Griffin, Leslie J. Holsinger, Shirin Arastu-Kapur, Samer Kaba, Alexander Lee, Mark I. Ryder, Barbara Potempa, Piotr Mydel, Annelie Hellvard, Karina Adamowicz, Hatice Hasturk, Glenn D. Walker, Eric C. Reynolds, Richard L. M. Faull, Maurice A. Curtis, Mike Dragunow, Jan Potempa. Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitorsScience Advances, 2019; 5 (1): eaau3333 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3333



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Natural Ways to Relieve Arthritis Pain

Rheumatoid arthritis involves chronic stiffness, swelling, and pain affecting the joints, and it can result in patients struggling to carry out their most simple daily activities, from getting out of bed in the morning to making their way into the office to preparing dinner for the family at the end of a long day.

To help with their condition, many rheumatoid arthritis patients turn to potent pain medications. But there are natural ways to treat rheumatoid arthritis and these methods can help individuals manage their condition without spending huge sums of money of pricey medications. Of course, whatever your treatment choice, it’s always a good idea to run the idea by your family doctor before moving ahead.

1. Apply Heat

The most simple and yet surprisingly effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is to apply heat to those areas providing the most stiffness, pain and general discomfort. Applying heat can help to reduce the swelling of the muscle, cartilage and other tissue in the joints by stimulating blood flow in the area, helping to alleviate much of the stiffness and pain that can make getting through the day with rheumatoid arthritis really difficult.

There are a few ways you can use heat to your advantage. The less natural way is to apply a medicated cream that uses a warming sensation. For a more natural approach, try running a towel under warm water and then wrapping it around the problem area. You could also use a heating pad, most of which can be warmed in the microwave in a couple minutes, though this does require purchasing the pad.

While applying heat can help bring relief to swollen joints and help rheumatoid arthritis patients get through the day in a simple and cost-effective way, switching between applying hot and cold is actually a more efficient way to bring down swelling. That’s because alternating hot and cold has been shown to alleviate inflammation and provide relief from stiffness and pain for a more prolonged period of time.

To apply cold, all you really need is a handful of ice cubes wrapped in a thin towel, like a face cloth. To prevent the ice from melting and getting water everywhere, consider wrapping the cubes in a ziploc bag or plastic grocery bag before wrapping them in the towel. For best results, apply the cold pack for 20 minutes, then turn to the heating pad for 20 minutes. Rotate this process until you can detect a decrease in swelling.

One way to bring down the swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis is to apply heat to the area using a heating pad or a towel warmed under hot water. This method for alleviating pain and discomfort is even more effective when combined with applying cold and then rotating between the two.

But you can also help bring relief to your sore joints by taking a hot shower or bath, particularly the latter. That’s because a shower or bath will immerse more of your body, and thus, more of your joints, in warmth, helping to stimulate blood flow and bring down the inflammation that presents such problems for people with rheumatoid arthritis. For even better results, consider soaking your swollen joints in a hot tub, which can apply even more heat and add stimulation.

4. Acupuncture Therapy

Acupuncture intimidated many North Americans when it began to appear more frequently in the late twentieth century, and for good reason: this form of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (and many other conditions) involves probing and stimulating certain parts of the body in order to correct imbalances of energy known as “qi.” This stimulation occurs by taking tiny needles and inserting them under the skin — a sight that left many North Americans a little put off.

But acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest and most practiced medicinal treatments. For literally thousands of years it’s been used to treat a variety of conditions, including the swelling of the joints. Today, it’s used by millions to reduce inflammation in many parts of the body, especially the back. Talk to your doctor about the potential benefits of pursuing acupuncture therapy.

Most of the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis involve stimulating the body in physical ways — like applying heat, cold, or taking medications that can numb the pain or reduce swelling. But there’s something to be said for treatment methods that use our mental energy to distract from the discomfort associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

In that regard, meditation has been used extensively to help rheumatoid arthritis patients manage their condition and its various symptoms. This involves using deep-breathing techniques that can help negate the impact of stress receptors that can serve to cause the constriction of muscles in affected areas, making pain more noticeable. By focusing on deep breathing rather than the pain, rheumatoid arthritis patients can learn long-term strategies for managing their discomfort.

The problem with rheumatoid arthritis, aside from the general pain and discomfort in provides, is that it can make physical exercise difficult to imagine, let alone actually carry out. When you wake up in the morning with ankles, knees or hips that scream in pain, the idea of going for a walk, let alone a run, jog, or bike ride, will at first seem completely out of the question.

And that’s a big problem, as physical exercise has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise can help improve flexibility in the joints and help build or improve the muscle that supports those joints. By refusing to engage in such activity, an individual could find their bones, joints, and connective tissues feel more stiff and resistant to movement. For this reason, it’s worth talking to your doctor about developing an effective and safe physical activity routine for your rheumatoid arthritis. Of particular importance are limited-impact activities, like cycling and swimming.

. Massage Therapy

The practice of massage therapy has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, and for good reason: science supports massage therapists’ claims that massaging problem areas of the body can have a significant impact on pain and can help reduce inflammation. This is particularly important for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, who are in constantly need of measures designed to prevent muscles and joints from becoming stiff and sore.

That said, not every massage therapist is the same — some are more experienced, while others specialize in providing treatment to people with certain ailments. Talk to your family doctor about getting a referral to a massage therapist who specializes in treating rheumatoid arthritis and related conditions.

8. Tai Chi

For decades, Tai Chi was regarded as something a little too strange for North American tastes. Was it meditation? Was it exercise? Was it some kind of weird twist on yoga?

In some ways, Tai Chi is actually a combination of all three — it’s a little bit meditation and deep breathing, a little physical exercise and stretching, a little yoga. In any case, it’s been shown to help build muscle strength and flexibility while improving an individual’s overall balance. It’s not guaranteed to help every rheumatoid arthritis patient manage their symptoms, but it’s worth a try.

This slow, gentle martial art is easy on your joints. You’ll stand and do a series of gentle movements that are easy to modify if your joints are sore. It can help with strength, flexibility, and balance. There isn’t enough research to know if it works to curb RA pain, but it may be something to try.

. Thunder God Vine

If we told you there’s a natural supplement that, when taken, could significantly reduce the inflammation around your joints, would you try it? Now, what if that supplement came from something called the “thunder god vine?”

It’s an odd name, but tests comparing thunder god vine with sulfasalazine, a drug popularly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, showed the former scored better results in reducing the symptoms associated with RA. Keep in mind, however, that side effects are possible and include upset stomach, headache, even hair loss. Run the idea by a doctor before starting to use this supplement on a regular basis, especially if you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

There are some foods you can add to your diet that could help in your fight against rheumatoid arthritis. For the most part, these are foods that help with muscle development and reduce inflammation, both of which play a major role in intensifying the pain and discomfort associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

And that’s where turmeric, a yellow-orange spice best known for its role in Indian cooking, comes in. Hailing from India and Indonesia, turmeric has a unique appearance and flavor and can be found in many of this region’s most popular dishes. But it’s also used for medicinal purposes, as turmeric has been shown to help alleviate inflammation in the joints and may even rival some drugs in its capacity to do this. Today, with south Asian cooking becoming more mainstream, turmeric should be available at just about any grocery store.

For the past few decades, yoga has become progressively more popular in North America. And there’s some good reason for that: yoga challenges participants to put their bodies’ flexibility to the test and rewards them with, in many cases, a resistance to physical injury. But it’s also a great way to meditate and take your mind off the stresses of personal and professional life.

That’s why so many people with rheumatoid arthritis turn to yoga to help manage their condition. It can help build flexibility in the areas most affected by rheumatoid arthritis, while its meditative element helps the mind focus on inner peace, rather than the pain and inflammation affecting their joints. In addition to helping with rheumatoid arthritis, yoga can help us reduce stress — a valuable tool for anyone with a busy job or home life.


12. Epsom Salts

One simple way to reduce the inflammation and bring a soothing, cooling calm your muscles and joints is to take a bath in water and empsom salts. When immersed in bath water, epsom salts dissolve and when this mixture is applied to the body, can sink in and soothe both the skin and muscles underneath.

Given the simplicity of this method and the low cost of epsom salts, this is a popular method for treating the pain, stiffness, and general discomfort associated with rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to helping treat rheumatoid arthritis pain and swelling, epsom salts are also used to reduce bruising, sore or torn muscles, skin conditions like psoriasis, and even sunburn. Soaking in a warm bath with epsom salts may also help alleviate stress and allow someone with insomnia trouble to enjoy a full night’s sleep.



Local health and social care leaders together with voluntary sector organisations in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) have unveiled new plans for supporting people with dementia and their carers.

In the UK, one person develops dementia every three minutes. In Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, there are more than 13,000 people living with dementia which is expected to rise in the coming years. Yet too many people living with dementia face the condition alone and excluded from society.

Read the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s Living Well with Dementia Strategy 2019-22 which sets out a vision to help people to live well with dementia.

The strategy is informed by what people have said about their experiences either as a person living with dementia or as a carer. It is written for people with memory concerns, those with a dementia diagnosis, their families and carers and the organisations supporting them. An important focus of the strategy is to move towards delivery of personalised and integrated care.

Women ‘paying highest price’ for Tory’s failure to deliver social care reform, charities say

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I don’t think there’s a day gone by in the last three years where I’ve not sat there and cried my eyes out,’ says Sarah, one of the sandwich carers who is looking after her parents while raising two children

Women are being left to shoulder the bulk of unpaid care work for two generations of their family because of the government’s failure to deliver promised reforms to social care, charities have said.

A report released by the charity Age UK shows that women make up 68 per cent of the UK’s 1.25 million “sandwich carers”, those caring for an older relative and children because of a lack of acceptable social care.

Friday marks International Women’s Day, but it is also two years since the government’s 2017 pledge to make social care financially sustainable and fit for the UK’s growing elderly population

Over a quarter (27 per cent) of sandwich carers provide more than 10 hours of care a week, and one in 14 (7 per cent) are providing more than 35 hours a week, the charity’s “Breaking Point” report shows.

But women accounted for 84 per cent – nearly 75,000 people – of those providing 35 hours of unpaid care work a week.

This is creating unsustainable strain as increasing barriers to access social care for assistance with day to day tasks like washing and dressing means there is no respite from responsibilities

“Two years on from the government’s promise to fix social care with a reforming green paper also marks International Women’s Day, and it is women who are often paying the highest price for ministers’ failure to act,” said Age UK director Caroline Abrahams.

“Given the intense pressure on them it’s amazing that more don’t experience a break down,” Ms Abrahams said. “But there’s no doubt many are coping with much more than it is reasonable to expect.”

She said the green paper, which has been delayed five times since it was first announced, was now “beyond a joke” and the cost is being born by millions of elderly or disabled people and their carers

Tory austerity policies have heaped pressure on social care by cutting council budgets and the funding they have available despite soaring demand for services.

As the majority of sandwich carers are of working age, with a third between the ages of 35 and 44, their care responsibilities create pressures elsewhere

The Alzheimer’s Society said it had supported women who had to be signed off sick from work with mental health issues because of the pressures of caring for both children and mothers with dementia.

“This latest data reinforces the extent to which hundreds of thousands of people, predominantly women, are propping up a broken care system,” Sally Copley, the charity’s director of policy said.

The government recently announced it was launching a national advertising campaign in a bid to fill 100,000 unfilled social care jobs, a situation which Brexit could make significantly worse.

However critics said that without reforming the wider system, so staff are paid a fair wage and feel valued, the campaign will fall flat.

Age UK has flagged how 50,000 people have died while still waiting to receive, or in some cases be assessed for, social care packages since the government pledged its green paper.

“Carers make an invaluable contribution to society by selflessly caring for friends and family and we recognise this must not come at the expense of their own health, wellbeing or employment,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said

“We are working to support unpaid carers across the country, including helping them to stay in or find employment and ensuring hard-working carers have access to paid breaks or respite care. Our forthcoming green paper will look at long-term sustainable solutions for the social care system, including measures to support carers.”


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Best Workouts to Slow the Effects of Aging

In a perfect world, we could all just dip ourselves in the fountain of youth, and we’d take 20-years off our age. However, we definitely don’t live in a perfect world, so there’s some work involved if you want to slow down the aging process – in this case, at the cellular level.

The New York Times explains there are exercises that are appropriate for “aging muscles,” noting that older cells don’t regenerate as quickly as young ones, and their mitochondria – which produces their energy – starts to drop off in advanced years. There’s some evidence, however, that “certain sorts of workouts may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria,” especially if it’s intense exercise, notes the source. So let’s take a look at 15 exercises from a variety of sources purported to slow down aging…

1. Weight Training says you can add some weight to your workouts, as long as your physician approves. Whether you use your own body weight for resistance or try free weights, you can work up a good burn in your muscles, it adds.

The source says the benefits of weight lifting include fighting fat, reducing the effects of osteoporosis (brittle bones), lowering diabetes risk, improving balance, and preventing back pain, all associated with advancing years.


2. High Intensity Interval Training

This is the type of exercise is actually highlighted in the study cited by the New York Times that we mentioned earlier. cites the same study, noting high intensity interval training (HIIT) “has been the buzzy sweat method for a while now.”

HIIT is a fast-paced workout that alternates “short burst of exercise” with quick recovery periods. The study had groups participating in 12-week HIIT cycling, strength training (with weights), and a combination of weights and cycling – those who completed the HIIT cycling “got the biggest benefit at the cellular level.” In fact, “older folks” in the study saw a 69-percent increase in mitochondrial capacity, it adds.


2. High Intensity Interval Training

This is the type of exercise is actually highlighted in the study cited by the New York Times that we mentioned earlier. cites the same study, noting high intensity interval training (HIIT) “has been the buzzy sweat method for a while now.”

HIIT is a fast-paced workout that alternates “short burst of exercise” with quick recovery periods. The study had groups participating in 12-week HIIT cycling, strength training (with weights), and a combination of weights and cycling – those who completed the HIIT cycling “got the biggest benefit at the cellular level.” In fact, “older folks” in the study saw a 69-percent increase in mitochondrial capacity, it adds.


This one shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone without mobility issues, and has physical benefits – but focuses on the mental benefits for the elderly when talking about this particular exercise.

The source says a study shows walking 72-blocks per week halts brain shrinkage and lowers the risk of cognitive decline and dementia by 50-percent!


5. Try Yoga

This may appear to be a low-impact exercise, but if you’ve ever tried an intermediate yoga class, you’ll know it’s actually pretty strenuous and requires learning breathing techniques. “Yogic breathing has been shown to oxygenate the cells, ridding them of toxins, helping prevent illness, and making skin radiant,” explains


The source goes on to say that yoga poses are designed “to work the inside of your body as well as the outside,” which could help with digestive issues and even the immune system, it adds.


6. Brain Gym

Anti-aging is more than about looking more radiant and toned. It’s about keeping your mind and wit sharp, and you can use a different kind of gym to achieve those kinds of results. explains that Brain Gym is “a series of cognitive learning exercises that are great for all ages.” But it’s more than just concentration and memory exercises; there are movements involved in Brain Gym that a 90-year-old can do, it adds. “The integrative movements effectively develop new brain cells, while building healthy neural networks. This can help prevent or slow down neuro-degeneration diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” it explains.


7. Swimming

Everyone likes a good soak, and getting into the pool reduces the weight on your joints and makes getting a workout easier – especially if you have arthritis.


In fact, says a Canadian study shows that for patients with osteoarthritis of the hip, swimming reduces the risk of falling and breaking a bone. “Swimming also has other anti-aging benefits such as easing arthritis pain and boosting mobility,” it adds.

8. Tai Chi

This traditional Chinese martial art can take years off your age at a cellular level, according to a National Post article from 2014. It points to a study that followed 3-groups of participants under 25-years old who participated in Tai Chi (compared to brisk walking or nothing at all).

The source says researchers found the biggest benefit in the Tai Chi group relating to “a stem cell important to a number of the body’s functions and structures.” Tai Chi has also been confirmed to benefit patients with moderate Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia, it adds.


9. Push-Ups

This simple exercise is listed among the 5-anti aging moves outlined by to keep women “fit and injury-free for life.” Don’t cheat now – get into a straight plank position with your wrists below your shoulders, with fingers turned slightly inwards.

Bend your elbows and lower your body until you’re “hovering above the ground,” and maintain your plank position and you press back up into a straight-armed position, it adds. Doing 10-reps should be sufficient (and remember to breathe).


10. ‘Cross’ Training

Okay, we’ve done a clever play on words here. What we mean is that incorporating moves into your exercises that involve crossing your arms or legs over the midline of your body can be beneficial for anti-aging.

Why? According to, this type of movement “makes your two brains talk to each other,” meaning it improves the connection between the left and right hemispheres of your brain, which lessens as you age. This can help protect against cognitive decline (and possibly help maintain your range of motion).

11. Tibetan Rites says the Tibetans have been doing a set of exercises known as the “Five Tibetan Rites” (also known as Fountain of Youth) since ancient times to stay young and healthy.

These 5-exercises involve simple movements and poses, and can be performed by those who are 80-and older to improve balance and to stay limber. Adding a foam body roller to the routine can help stretch out muscles and tendons for added benefit, it notes.


12. Just Get Moving

Okay, so you can hit the gym for a proper workout (and possibly the help of a personal trainer), but explains a study out of McMaster University in Ontario shows that activity that helps you break a sweat regularly can take years off your appearance.


Apparently the key is the production of myokines, proteins produced by muscle cells and carried throughout the body, which improve complexion. The source says the study found women over 65 who exercise for a minimum of 2-hours per week for 3-months “had the skin composition of women 20 to 30-years younger.”


13. Jogging

This is walking’s slightly faster cousin, but it can help slow down some of the effects of aging, according to Business Insider. More specifically, jogging (and other aerobic exercises) can help reverse “some heart damage from normal aging,” it adds.

Aging can take its toll on the heart, causing it to stiffen – the left chamber of the heart (that supplies the body with richly oxygenated blood) is at particularly high risk, it adds. A study it cites divided participants into 2-groups – 1-of them did 2-years of supervised exercise up to 5-days a week, while the other did balance exercises and yoga. The “higher intensity exercisers” had significant improvement in heart function by the study’s end, it noted.


14. Eccentric Exercise

No, this doesn’t mean you have to act silly when you’re working out – it relates to strength training. Men’s Journal explains while pretty much any strength-training exercises will do, how you do those exercises might determine their anti-aging effectiveness.

It notes when you’re doing your weight training, to focus on concentric movements (short, contracting) for the first 2-sets, and then switch to eccentric (lengthening, releasing) for the next 2-sets. The eccentric phase may help improve strength more due to more microtears in muscle fiber, it adds. Also be sure to switch up your routine weekly to keep “your muscles guessing.”


15. Balance Training

Huffington Post says you should focus on balance when you’re advancing in age, as falling “can lead to broken bones or head trauma.” It suggests a couple of exercises for improving your balance through movement, ensuring you’ve cleared an adequate space for yourself to do them and have had your fitness level assessed.

One suggestion is the “single-leg balance and reach,” which involves keeping your upper body steady while reaching to the side and to the back with 1-leg, but you can also make it a bit easier by shifting your weight from 1-leg to the other and then building up to balancing on 1-leg.



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Drinking Soda Can Speed Up Your Clock

Put that can of soda down! It’s not only bad for your teeth (and probably loaded with caffeine), but it can also prematurely age you, according to The source explains that Harvard researchers determined that phosphate found in fizzy drinks (which gives beverages a “tangy” taste) caused mice to die earlier than phosphate-free rodents.

Aside from outright dying, you may be impacting your quality of life by consuming carbonated beverages. Health problems associated include “brittle bones, pancreatic cancer, muscle weakness and paralysis,” notes the source. It doesn’t mean you can’t grab a soda now and then, but it’s probably best if you don’t drink it every day.

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Could this brain stimulation technique reverse memory decline?

New research suggests that transcranial magnetic stimulation could reverse age-related memory loss. In fact, the technique restored the memory of senior participants to the level of young adults. 

It is a known fact that a person's memory tends to decline with age. Between 15 and 20 percent of people over the age of 65 years have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — a condition that is no cause for concern on its own but that raises the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Misplacing things once in a while or having trouble finding one's words can be a natural part of the aging process. However, researchers may now have found a way to reverse this form of age-related memory loss.

Joel Voss, who is an associate professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, is the lead investigator of the new study.

Voss and his team used a noninvasive form of brain stimulation called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to improve memory in older adults. The researchers published their findings in the journal Neurology.

Using TMS to target the hippocampus

TMS works by applying magnetic fields to specific brain areas, thus affecting the central nervous system. The technique operates completely outside of the body, which means that it is noninvasive.

In this case, Voss and team applied TMS to the participants' hippocampus — a brain area that shrinks with age and that previous research has linked with age-related memory loss.

The hippocampus is "the part of the brain that links two unrelated things together into a memory, like the place you left your keys or your new neighbor's name," explains the lead researcher. "Older adults often complain about having trouble with this."

In the current study, Voss and team recruited 16 adults aged between 64 and 80 years and used functional MRI to locate the hippocampus in each participant.

As the hippocampus is too deep in the brain for the magnetic fields to reach it, the researchers targeted a superficial brain area in the parietal lobe that connects with the hippocampus instead. Doing this made it possible to use TMS to affect the hippocampus indirectly.

"We stimulated where brain activity is synchronized to the hippocampus, suggesting that these regions talk to each other," explains Aneesha Nilakantan, the study's first author.

The researchers applied high-frequency magnetic stimulation to this brain area for 20 minutes each day for 5 consecutive days. Before and after the intervention, the researchers tested each participant's memory using standard memory tests.

The tests involved remembering random associations between a variety of things, such as objects, places, or words. Usually, young adults get 55 percent of these associations correct while older adults score below 40 percent.

Memory restored to young adult level


After receiving the TMS intervention, the seniors in the study scored the same as young adults typically would in the standardized memory tests.

Voss and team also carried out a sham intervention, which did not yield the same results.


"Older people's memory got better up to the level that we could no longer tell them apart from younger people. They got substantially better."

Joel Voss


The lead researcher comments on the uniqueness of the study, saying, "There is no previous evidence that the specific memory impairments and brain dysfunction seen in older adults can be rescued using brain stimulation or any other method."

In the near future, the researchers plan to test this approach in people with MCI.

source -



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