Thursday, March 29, 2007

Life During Mild Alzheimer Disease

From today's New York Times:

Living With Alzheimer’s Before a Window Closes
The New York Times
29 March 2007

Mary Blake Carver gazes from the cover of a neurology magazine this month, under the headline “I’m Still Here!” She often feels like shouting the message to her friends, her children, her husband.

Ms. Carver, 55, is among the growing ranks of people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, when short-term memory is patchy, organizational skills fail, attention wanders and initiative comes and goes. But there is still a window of opportunity — maybe one year, maybe five — to reason, communicate and go about her life with a bit of help from those around her.

Yet Ms. Carver is often lonely and bored. Her husband leaves her out of many dinner table conversations, both say, because she cannot keep up with the normal patter. He insists on buttoning her coat when she fumbles at the task. She was fired as a massage therapist because she lost track of time. So Ms. Carver fills her days by walking her neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, always with her dog, so she looks like “an ordinary person,” she said, not someone with “nothing better to do.”

Five million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study last week by the Alzheimer’s Association. About half, 2.5 million, are at the early stages of the disease, other studies have found, struggling to pass for normal.

They are impaired but not helpless or demented, and now a growing number are speaking out about how it feels to be them: Silenced prematurely or excluded from decision making. Bristling at well-meaning loved ones who boss them around. Seeking meaningful activities to fill their days.

Out of their individual frustrations, these patients are creating a grass-roots movement to improve services and change public perceptions. And they are making a mark.

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Obit: Dr. Paul C. Lauterbur


Paul C. Lauterbur, 77, Dies; Won Nobel Prize for M.R.I.
Published: March 28, 2007

Paul C. Lauterbur, who shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2003 for developing magnetic resonance imaging into a way to look inside living organisms, died yesterday at his home in Urbana, Ill. He was 77.


In his initial experiments, Dr. Lauterbur produced simple pictures that could differentiate tubes of ordinary water from those containing water made of deuterium atoms, a heavier version of hydrogen.

He also took an N.M.R. picture of a clam. “Which looked pretty much like a clam,” said David Hanson, a colleague at Stony Brook. “Some people thought it was sort of wacky.”

The pictures were blurry and not particularly impressive.

When Dr. Lauterbur submitted his findings to the journal Nature, it rejected the article.

But he persisted, Dr. Hanson said. “Paul had the vision and the understanding that these were just proof-of-principle experiments,” he said, “and they were blazing a trail, and once you got the trail started, it would turn into a superhighway.”

Dr. Lauterbur appealed to the editors and submitted a revised manuscript. It was accepted and published in 1973.

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Military Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Thanks to The Washington Post and ABC News, treatment issues related to TBI and other war-related injuries have been at the forefront of a healthy dose public attention over the past month.

From the New York Times and International Herald Tribune:

For the war's many brain-wounded, a challenge to find the right care
By Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez
The New York Times and International Herald Tribune
Published: March 12, 2007


"We have been let down by a system that is so bungling and bureaucratic that it doesn't know what it can and cannot do and just says no as a matter of course," said Debra Schulz of Friendswood, Texas. Her son, Lance Corporal Steven Schulz, 22, of the Marines, suffered a severe brain injury during his second tour in Iraq.

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Olfaction, Memory, and Sleep

From today's New York Times:

Scent Activates Memory During Sleep, Study Says
The New York Times
Published: March 8, 2007

Scientists studying how sleep affects memory have found that the whiff of a familiar scent can help a slumbering brain better remember things that it learned the evening before. A rose bouquet — delivered to people’s nostrils as they studied and, later, as they slept — improved their performance on a memory test by almost 15 percent.

The new study, appearing Friday in the journal Science, is the first rigorous test of odor on human memory during sleep. The results — whether or not they can help students cram for tests — clarify the picture of what the sleeping brain does with newly studied material, and of what it takes for this process to succeed.

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

Monday, March 05, 2007

Upcoming Event: Cambridge (UK), 11 April 2007

Sixth Annual Clinical Neurosciences lecture: Dr. Peter St George (University of Toronto) "Alzheimer's centennial legacy: Prospects for treatment."

See webpage for details.