Trick or Treat: Does Chocolate Help Brain Health?

A new study this week that linked the antioxidant-rich flavanols in cocoa to improved memory in healthy older adults produced lots of yummy headlines, so  it’s OK to stuff ourselves with leftover Halloween candy, right? Well, not exactly. Study participants — all between the ages of 50 and 69 — saw striking improvements in memory after drinking a special cocoa drink daily for just three months. On average, the memory of 60-year-olds improved to perform more like that of  30- or 40-year-olds, according to …

MRI Scans Could Detect Alzheimer’s Early

An MRI scan can detect signs of cognitive decline in the brain before symptoms of memory loss appear, according to a new study published in the online journal Radiology. This new use of a well-known technique has the potential to be used in the very early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers in Switzerland gave MRI brain scans to 148 healthy older men and women — average age, 76 — as well as 65 people with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers then …

Stress, Anxiety Raise Risk of Alzheimer’s for Women

Middle-aged women who are worried, moody, jealous and stressed have double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life as do those with calmer personalities, according to a new Swedish study published in the journal Neurology. Swedish researchers followed 800 women — average age, 46 — for nearly 40 years and gave them personality tests to judge whether they were neurotic, stressed, introverted or extroverted. The researchers also studied hospital records and the results of neurological exams to determine whether …

Rx for Brain: Baked or Broiled Fish Every Week

Here’s an easy way to boost your brain health, especially if you’re worried about memory loss or dementia: Eat any kind of fish – as long as it isn’t fried – at least once a week. That’s the surprising result of a new study looking at simple lifestyle changes a person could make to help protect against Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline. By looking at MRI brain scans of healthy older adults enrolled in a 10-year study, the researchers found that …

‘Alive Inside’: Music + Alzheimer’s = Miracle

  When you speak, you’re mainly using the left hemisphere of your brain. When you look at a painting, it’s the rear of your brain that perceives what you’re seeing. But the brain has no precise center for music. When you listen to music you love, all your gray matter gets into the act: Do a scan of a brain listening to music and virtually the entire thing starts to glow, like embers in a warm hearth. That brain-wide embrace of music …

Test Your Brain With the Toughest Tongue Twister Ever

Try saying this 10 times fast: “pad kid poured curd pulled cod.” If you can do it, a team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) just might give you a prize. The team has been researching tongue twisters, those seemingly simple words or phrases that when spoken quickly and repeatedly make our brains stumble and our tongues get tangled. The researchers are interested in what tongue-twister errors can tell us about how our brains process speech. The …