Oliver Sacks: He Explained the Mind’s Oddities to Us

Oliver Sacks was perhaps the only neurologist to inspire a hit Hollywood film, 1990’s Awakenings starring Robin Williams. The movie was based on Sacks’ 1973 memoir about his work with encephalitis patients, one of 14 books by the physician and professor turned author, who passed away Aug. 30 at age 82 in New York City having helped millions of readers understand the myriad peculiarities and wonders of the human brain. Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 » Sacks himself had more …

Hybrid Implants Could Help Millions Hear Better

One of the major complaints about hearing aids is that they don’t work well in noise. Dinner in a restaurant can mean choosing to be assaulted by the din and still not hear your dinner companions, or taking the hearing aids out and trying to get along by lip reading. The reason for the din is that most age-related hearing loss (and much noise-related loss) occurs primarily in the high frequencies, with low-frequency hearing often less severely affected. Unfortunately hearing …

Women With Memory Problems Decline Faster Than Men

Women are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s disease as men, but for years, doctors assumed that was simply because women lived longer. Now it appears there’s more to it. Emerging research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington this week suggests there may be biological differences that put women at higher risk — not just for developing the disease as they age, but for experiencing precipitous declines after surgery or general anesthesia. “Understanding these differences will help us …

Loneliness Is Bad for Your Brain

Feeling lonely is dangerous for your brain health, according to a new study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this week. Lonely older adults are not only more likely to experience declines in mobility and physical limitations; they are also more likely to have memory problems and are at higher risk for dementia, says Nancy Donovan, geriatric psychiatrist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Donovan and her colleagues studied 8,300 men and women 65 and older and found that …

New Ways to Predict Who Will Get Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers still don’t have a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s, but they’re coming closer to being able to predict who will develop the disease that robs the minds of millions of Americans every year. One long-term study presented this week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington found that a combination of memory tests, brain scans and body fluids can predict with about 80 percent accuracy whether a person without memory problems will develop the disease. Scientists at Johns Hopkins …

Why Our Young Adults Do the Things They Do

About a decade ago, Frances Jensen’s sweet-natured 15-year-old son returned home from a friend’s house with his hair dyed black and announced he was planning to add red streaks. Jensen’s reaction was typical of countless parents who suddenly confront a stranger living in their house. “I was gobsmacked. Is this really my child?” she writes. While many of us would just start ranting, Jensen, then a Harvard Medical School neurology professor and researcher, was inspired by the incident to start …