Humans recognize faces through “holistic perception;” that is, instead of recognizing an individual’s eyes or mouth, we take in the face as a whole. This ability is known to be impaired relatively early in the Alzheimer’s disease progression. In a recent study from the Université de Montréal, participants with and without Alzheimer’s disease were shown pictures of faces and cars that were upside down, and the two groups were similar in speed and accuracy of identification; this task requires the recognition of specific parts of a whole.
Previous studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin A. A recent study from the University of British Columbia found that a higher proportion of older adults with a vitamin A deficiency experienced a “severe cognitive decline,” compared to those with sufficient levels of the vitamin. The UBC researchers also took this a step further, finding evidence that in mice, prenatal vitamin A deficiency is associated with poorer cognitive function in adulthood.
Substantial experimental evidence suggests that meditation may improve “attention, executive function, memory, and processing speed.” Also well-documented is that listening to relaxing classical music promotes effective “emotional regulation and reward, behavioral responses, and working memory and attention.” A recent study examined the effects of listening to music or developing a meditation practice on cognitive function.
A recent study from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York has found evidence to explain why some people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) wander. Disorientation and deficits in navigation can be seen early in the AD progression; in a brain with AD, Tau proteins accumulate and disrupt neural signaling. The area of the brain primarily responsible for navigation contains grid cells; these specialized neurons fire to relay spatial information to other parts of the brain, where this activity is interpreted as location.
Making the transition from home to a care facility is always a difficult decision. University of Ottawa researchers have conducted a review of previous studies concerning the benefits of living independently at home, living at home with support, and living in an alternative care institution; access to this evidence could help inform seniors facing this difficult decision.