I’m pleased to share some news from pilot study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. The study, led by researchers at the Weill Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry, examined the effects of BrainHQ training on older patients (aged 60-89) with major depressive disorder who had failed to respond to anti-depressive drug treatment. The study found that 58% of study subjects using the BrainHQ exercises showed remission in depression, compared to just 8% in the control group (who did computerized education for the same amount of time). This appears to be the first randomized controlled study to show brain exercises can be effective for addressing depression in treatment-resistant older patients.
We are proud of these results, because as always, we are committed to advancing the science of brain training. If you’d like to read more about this study and its findings, please click here.Best regards,
Mapping Our Lives
People are constantly creating “mental maps” to understand the relative location of places. That’s what allows us to find our way around the environment we inhabit. But mental maps do much more than that. Studies show that people use mental maps for many more abstract tasks, too—including organizing social relationships. Learn more about just how critical mental maps are in helping us to navigate life in many ways.
Smelling the Roses…or the Onions
It’s been hard for scientists to figure out how the mammalian brain tells one smell from another. “Decoding how the brain tells apart odor is complicated, in part, because unlike with other senses such as vision, we do not yet know the most important aspect of individual smells,” explains doctoral student Edmund Chong. But in a new study, Chong and his colleagues have taken a step forward on that front by creating electrical signals that the brain perceives as an odor. Learn more.
Taking Out the Neural Garbage
It is a normal part of brain function for brain cells to die. What’s important for maintaining good cognitive health, though, is that the dead cells be properly disposed of. Special cells called microglia and astrocytes take on that role. Now, for the first time, researchers at Yale have recorded this process for a single cell. Check out the video!
A Doctor’s Self-Experiment
Dr. Nico Dosenbach often prescribes CIMT (constraint-induced movement therapy) to his patients with disabled arms or hands. The idea is to keep the stronger arm still, so that the patient has to use their other one. To have a better idea of how and why it works, he decided to do an experiment on himself: he put one of his own uninjured arms in a cast, then had his brain scanned to see how it adapted. What he found was that in just a few days, his brain had reorganized. Learn more.
Five Lifestyle Habits That May Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk
A large new study showed that people who follow five lifestyle behaviors may have up to a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s. The key was to follow at least four of them. Perhaps not surprisingly, the five behaviors included keeping physically active, not smoking, following a good diet, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, and cognitive activity. Learn more.
Book of the Month
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2015)
By Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
In this seminal work, Dr. van der Kolk digs deep into the repercussions of trauma. And as he points out, despite the standard focus on war veterans, many, many people have experienced trauma over the course of life, from a spectrum of painful experiences. Dr. van der Kolk explains how trauma changes the brain and the body—so that the person’s life is deeply affected over the long term. Fortunately, there are some hopeful therapies and treatments that can help rewire the brain and help people rebuild their lives. Learn more or buy on Amazon.