Cocoa might reverse age-related memory decline

Flavanols, an ingredient present in cocoa might reverse age-related memory decline, a study appear in Nature Neuroscience reported.                                                
The study was conducted in 37 healthy volunteers aged between 50 and 69 years of age. The study participants were given a daily drink of either high flavanols of 900 mg or 10mg for three months.

Brain scans and blood tests were performed before and after the study to assess the memory performance in the volunteers. Additionally, a 20-minute pattern recognition exercise for memory testing was conducted.

Improved brain blood flow with significant memory improvements were observed in the high flavanol received individuals.

Naturally occurring food such as green tea, grapes, blueberries and some vegetables are rich sources of flavanols.

Light alcohol drinking linked with better episodic memory

Although alcoholism is not good for health, light alcohol drinking in later life might improve episodic memory, a recent study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias suggested. Light alcoholics who are over 60 years of age might be able to recall memories of events better than non-alcoholic peers, the study reported.                                                       

Researchers examined medical records of over 660 patients who registered themselves at Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. The possible association between midlife and late-life alcoholism, cognitive functioning and regional brain volume was assessed in adults without history of memory problems (dementia) and history of alcohol abuse. The study subjects were inquired about memory skills and alcohol habits by questionnaire survey. All the volunteers underwent various neuropsychological assessments and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.

When compared to midlife, light and moderate alcoholics, higher episodic memory was observed in older individuals with light and moderate alcohol consumption habits. The latter group was presented with larger volume of hippocampus (a brain region) and recalled memories, even better than the former group. Hippocampus is vital for memory and cognition. Additionally, no significant adverse effects were observed on overall mental ability among light alcoholics.

Music therapy improve behavioral problems in kids

A recent Irish study found that music therapy reduced behavioral and emotional problems including depression in children and adolescents. The study was jointly conducted by Queen’s University and Northern Ireland music therapy trust.                                                      

The study analyzed 251 children and young adults with behavioral, emotional and developmental problems. Among them, 128 were assigned to conventional treatment while the rest were on music therapy plus usual care.

When compared to kids not treated with music therapy, significantly improved self-esteem and depression symptoms were observed in music therapy received kids. Music therapy improved interactive and communicative skills, the largest-ever study reported.

Previously published studies have suggested long-term, sustained benefits of music therapy. Further studies are to be conducted to compare the cost-effectiveness of music therapy with other treatments.

A Walnut a day may keep AD at bay

Eating walnut-enriched diet every day may prevent, reduce the risk or delay the onset, progression, worsening of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a research study appears in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The research was conducted by an Indian-origin scientist Dr. Abha Chauhan at New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR).                                                 
The study examined the dietary supplementation benefits of 6% and 9% walnuts, equivalent of 28.3 gm and 42.5 gm, every day, respectively in laboratory animals with experimentally-induced brain degeneration. The symptoms of brain degeneration mimicked symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Walnut-enriched diet fed animals showed significant reduction in anxiety problems with improved learning skills, motor development and cognitive memory.

The brain-protective benefits of walnuts might be due to high antioxidant content that delayed/prevented brain degeneration, the researchers believe.