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 …

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 …

Learning a Second Language at Any Age Can Slow Brain Aging

I lived in Stockholm for two years after college and doggedly learned Swedish, even though most Swedes speak beautiful English. Not only could I communicate better with then-tiny (now giant) Swedish nephews, turns out it was a good move for my brain. Learning a second language – even as an adult – helps protect the brain from aging,  says a new study published in the Annals of Neurology. “Learning a language later in life is a challenge but is very, very good for …

Is That Aching Head Hurting Your Brain?

If you suffer from migraines, how worried should you be about a recent study that suggests the painful disorder may permanently change brain structure? For this study, published online Wednesday in the journal Neurology, researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark analyzed 19 different studies and found that people who suffer from migraines have an increased risk of brain lesions – tiny scars on the brain – as well as more infarct-like abnormalities and changes in brain volume. The results showed …

Recognize These Folks? If Not, You May Be in Trouble…

  Can you name the famous faces above? If not, you may be headed for a type of early dementia. A new study suggests that a simple test that measures the ability to recognize and name famous people may help doctors identify a type of early dementia in people ages 40 to 65. Researchers at Northwestern University tested 30 people with primary progressive aphasia, a type of dementia that first affects language, and 27 people without dementia. The test includes …

What Causes Dementia? Anemia Is Part of the Puzzle

In yet another study linking healthy blood flow to brain health, new research finds that older adults with anemia – low levels of red blood cells – have an increased risk for dementia. Previous research has linked uncontrolled high cholesterol and high blood pressure to increased risk of dementia. Now this large new study finds that anemia also increases dementia risk. >> Stay sharp with help from the AARP Brain Health Center Researchers tested 2,500 older dementia-free adults in Memphis, Tenn., …