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Can electrical currents in the brain improve memory loss? WHYY Radio reports that researchers at the University of Pennsylvania will test an approach called "deep brain stimulation" in Alzheimer's patients. It's been successful in reducing Parkinson's symptoms, as well as treating depression. David Wolk, MD, assistant professor of Neurology, Gordon Baltuch, MD, PhD, professor of Neurosurgery, and other Penn researchers will now study whether it can help patients with mild Alzheimer's. "The goal of this study is to stimulate one part of that network," explained Wolk. "To turn on one part of that network to sort of reboot, if you will, the entire network to see if that enhances memory function and improves overall functioning in people with Alzheimer's disease." Wolk says the Penn Memory Center is one of five sites in the U.S. participating in the study. The hope is to reduce symptoms, and possibly reverse some of the disease's effects on the brain.
To learn more about the deep brain stimulation study at the Penn Memory Center, called ADvance, visit our research page at http://pennadc.org/research/penn-memory-center-research.
While they are careful not to call it a cure, researchers at Ohio State University believe they may be able to reverse some of the ravages left by Alzheimer’s disease by implanting tiny electrodes in a patient’s brain and then hooking those wires up to a sort of pacemaker.
Scientists believe that deep-brain stimulation could improve symptoms by jump starting networks gunked up by the sticky proteins generated in Alzheimer’s disease.
The disease damages many of the brain’s networks, explained Dr. David Wolk, an assistant professor of neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and assistant director of the Penn Memory Center in Philadelphia. Wolk’s group is just starting to screen patients for a trial similar to the one at Ohio State, although the Penn researchers plan to stimulate a different area of the brain.
“The most prominent circuit involved in the disease is the one for memory,” Wolk said. “It’s thought that if we can stimulate that network we can make it perform more effectively.”
Dr. Wolk is leading this deep brain stimulation study, called ADvance, at the Penn Memory Center. For more information and to download a one-page study sheet, view the study posting here: http://pennadc.org/research/penn-memory-center-research.
On Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 Dr. Jason Karlawish, Associate Director of the Penn Memory Center, will be featured in a nationally broadcasted radio segment by 2BoomerBabes. The interview segment will focus on topics related to the ethical challenges of Alzheimer's disease. To tune in from home the broadcast will stream live online starting at 11:00am EST on www.delmarvapublicradio.net. Please log on to the site a few minutes early as it may take a minute to log on. Alternately, check AARP Internet Radio at www.aarp.org/radio to hear the interview streaming on an ongoing basis or visit the 2BoomerBabes site to hear the interview after its original air dates at www.2boomerbabes.com.
Deborah Fries, freelance writer for the Penn Memory Center InSight newsletter, has been awarded with the 2013 Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry. A resident of Elkins Park, PA, Deborah was selected by judge and noted poet Dorothea Lasky. Philadelphia Stories' Poetry Editor Courtney Bambrick calls the winning poem "an evocative and transformative piece that exemplifies a commitment to storytelling through image and momentum." Deborah wins a cash prize of $1,000 and an invitation to the Party Like a Poet celebration on April 19 where she will be awarded with the prize. Out of the hundreds of poems Philadelphia Stories received, the poetry board and final judge selected Deborah Fries’ “Marie in America” for first place.
"This prize reflects the vibrancy of the Philadelphia literary community, and the serious support it provides to poets," says winner Deborah Fries. "I am very honored to be a recipient."
On April 20 Penn Memory Center Director Dr. Steven Arnold and Felicia Greenfield, LCSW, will present at "The Aging Mind 101," a workshop hosted by the LGBT Elder Initiative. Memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive issues present unique challenges to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities as they age, and the LGBT Elder Initiative is hosting the event to address these issues. The event is part of the LGBTEI CONVERSATIONS series of informational programs, and it will address healthy aging and techniques for maintaining mental abilities, warning signs of disease states, the psychosocial implications for the patient, and issues facing their caregivers.
For more information about the LGBT Elder Initiative visit their website at www.lgbtei.org.
On February 12, President Barack Obama mentioned Alzheimer’s in his State of the Union Address, the first time that’s happened in thirteen years. President Obama said, "Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race." Just as with the National Alzheimer's Plan and the previous financial commitments from the Obama administration, the President’s statement about the importance of Alzheimer’s research in his State of the Union Address is based on recognition of the human and financial impact of Alzheimer's.
The Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, seeking to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics. The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness. Scientists with the highest hopes for the project also see it as a way to develop the technology essential to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as to find new therapies for a variety of mental illnesses. Moreover, the project holds the potential of paving the way for advances in artificial intelligence.