Adults at Alzheimer’s Risk May Reverse Memory Loss with Music, Meditation

Meditation, Music May Help Reverse Early Memory Loss in Adults with Alzheimer’s Risk

A West Virginia University research team, led by Kim Innes, PhD, conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial in 60 adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD), a condition that might be associated with preclinical-stage AD. They found that beginner meditation (Kirtan Kriya, or KK) or listening to music for 12 minutes a day for three months had significant benefits.

The team detailed its findings in the study, “Meditation and Music Improve Memory and Cognitive Function in Adults with Subjective Cognitive Decline: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” It was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Participants were assigned to KK or a music listening (ML) program, and asked to practice 12 minutes per day for three months, then at their discretion for three months. Their memory and cognitive function were measured at baseline, three months and six months using the memory functioning questionnaire (MFQ), trail making test (TMT-A/B), and digit-symbol substitution test (DSST).

53 people (88%) completed the study.

Participants performed an average of 93% of sessions (91% in the KK group and 94% in ML) in the first three months, and 71% of sessions (68% in KK and 74% in ML) during the three-month follow-up period.

Both groups showed significant improvements at three months in memory and cognitive performance. At six months, overall gains were maintained or improved. The benefits did not differ by age, gender, baseline cognition scores, or any other factor.

The improvements were in cognitive functioning areas most likely to be affected in preclinical and early stages of dementia, such as attention, executive function, and subjective memory function. There were substantial gains in memory and cognition, and they were sustained or enhanced at the six-month mark.

In another paper, the team said both study groups showed improvements in sleep, mood, stress, well-being, and quality of life, particularly those in the mediation group. All the benefits were sustained or enhanced post-intervention, the researchers said.

“The findings of this trial suggest that two simple mind-body practices, Kirtan Kriya meditation and music listening, may not only improve mood, sleep, and quality of life, but also boost cognition and help reverse perceived memory loss in older adults with SCD,” the team wrote.

Estrogen Patch in Newly Postmenopausal Women May Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

Summary: According to a new study, amyloid deposition is reduced in newly postmenopausal women who received a estrogen replacement therapy.

Source: Mayo Clinic.

Can estrogen preserve brain function and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease when given early in menopause? Newly postmenopausal women who received estrogen via a skin patch had reduced beta-amyloid deposits, the sticky plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, a Mayo Clinic study published this month in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found. Ultimately, these deposits harm neurons, leading to cognitive problems.

In the study, women with APOE e4 — one form of the most common gene associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease — had lower levels of amyloid deposits.

“This study showed, for the first time, that the brain amyloid deposition — a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — is reduced in newly postmenopausal women who received 17beta-Estradiol patch form of hormone therapy,” says lead author Kejal Kantarci, M.D., a Mayo Clinic radiologist. “Women with APOE e4, who have a greater genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, particularly benefited from this therapy.”

Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles. In the U.S., the average age of menopause is 51. A rapid decline in estrogen with menopause may be associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease risk in women.

The Women’s Health Initiative study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that menopausal hormone therapy started in women 65 or older increased the risk of dementia. In contrast, the multicenter Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study tested the hypothesis that healthy and younger women would respond to menopausal hormone therapy more favorably.

The Mayo Clinic study used data from the Kronos study to determine the effects of menopausal hormone therapy shortly after menopause, during the critical window of rapid estrogen depletion — five to 36 months past menopause. Researchers investigated the brain amyloid deposition in 68 women ages 42 to 59 who participated in the Kronos trial during this critical window. The researchers used positron emission tomography, also known as a PET scan, to look for the brain amyloid deposits three years after the trial ended.

An alzheimer's brain slice.

Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles. In the U.S., the average age of menopause is 51. A rapid decline in estrogen with menopause may be associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease risk in women. image is for illustrative purposes only.

Of the 68 women, 21 received estrogen via a skin patch, 17 received estrogen orally and 30 received a placebo. Amyloid deposition was lower in women who received the patch, compared to the placebo, and the effect was most apparent in women with the APOE e4 genotype. The oral treatment was not associated with lower amyloid deposition.

The authors are seeking funding to perform amyloid PET imaging at eight more Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention study sites around the U.S.

“If our results are confirmed in the larger group of women, this finding has the potential to change the concepts for preventive interventions that drive the Alzheimer’s disease field today,” Dr. Kantarci says. “It also may have a significant impact on women making the decision to use hormone therapy in the early postmenopausal years.”

Stress Tied to Alzheimer’s Risk

Worrying about things you can’t control may put you at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to a study published in Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders.

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System in New York looked at data from more than 500 adults 70 and older to examine the connection between chronic stress and what’s known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), which is often a precursor of Alzheimer’s.

The study authors gave questionnaires to just over 500 adults, aged 70 and older, asking about how much stress they experience. None of the adults had signs of dementia at the study’s start. The researchers then followed the study participants for more than three years. Each year, they underwent a series of tests related to their daily living, their memory and their ability to think clearly.

Stress Tied to Alzheimer's Risk

Adults who perceived themselves to be under the most stress had a considerably greater risk of early cognitive impairment, according to the study. This risk remained after accounting for the participants’ depression symptoms, age, sex, race, education level and genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers acknowledged that the study showed only an association between stress and aMCI, but not clear evidence that it causes that type of cognitive impairment.

About 5 million people in the U.S. 65 and older had Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is expected to triple by 2050.’