Research shows Alzheimer’s could be slowed with depression drug
Drugs that have been previously used to treat depression and cancer could now be “re purposed” to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases.
A new study carried out by researches from the University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham and the Medical Research Center Toxicology Unit in Leicester, UK, has shown two older drugs that could be re-purposed to fight dementia. Degenerative diseases are conditions which cause progressive damage to the brain’s functions. In this study mice were infected with diseses that mimicked neurodegenerative diseases, they were treated with two drugs: trazodone hydrochloride (used to treat depression and anxiety) and dibenzoylmethane (a drug used to treat some cancers).
Both of these drugs were shown to restore protein production in the brains of the mice. Professor Giovanna Mallucci who led the team said, “We know that trazodone is safe to use in humans, so a clinical trial is now possible to test whether the protective effects of the drug we see on brain cells in mice with neurodegeneration also applies to people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”
This exciting early-stage research demonstrates a beneficial neurological effect of tradzodone and dibnzolymethane on mice with diseases that mimic neurodegenerative diseases. Trazodone is already an approved drug for humans. If the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in humans and mice are similar it is possible that this drug could be used in the future of treating Alzheimer’s. It could be several years before these drugs are available for dementia treatment.
NEVER TOO OLD FOR GOLD
Active lifestyle and Dementia
“You’re never too old for gold.” This is the mantra of the surprisingly spritely competitors in the over-80s World Table Tennis Championships who are living proof of the benefits of leading an active lifestyle well into retirement.
And it’s not just physical wellbeing they enjoy. Did you know that there is mounting evidence to show that playing ping pong can tackle the onset of dementia and control the progress of it for those who are already suffering? T3 Ping Pong offers all these benefits as well as being even more sociable than traditional table tennis.
Research indicates that any exercise that gets your circulation going can help to slow cognitive decline as well as reducing the risk of dementia. Exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus through increased cerebral blood flow; the hippocampus is the part of our brain which is central to our ability to form new memories and crucially, it is this which is seen to shrink in individuals with Alzheimer’s, as shown in the images below. And ping pong, it seems, is one of the best activities to choose from, in the fight against dementia. So much so, that in the US, table tennis is used as therapy for patients living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Aside from the great overall workout it gives your body, ping pong requires the brain to be constantly engaged. It’s not simply a matter of hitting a ball to and fro; the player must also keep an eye on the ball as well as on their opponent’s movements which demands good hand-eye co-ordination and decent spatial awareness. And this is not just theoretical; studies have shown that table tennis activates various parts of the brain simultaneously. The player is required to be both mentally and physically alert at the same time.
In the USA, the non-profit Sport and Art Educational Foundation (SAEF) runs a ping pong therapy programme in Los Angeles for Alzheimer’s patients. Elderly locals play once or twice a week and the focus is on a low-impact game that stimulates concentration and improves motor function while also lifting the player’s mood. SAEF started the programme in response to a large clinical study(1) in Japan dating back to 1997. Their sample of 3,000 elderly players was shown to have increased frontal lobe function after just two minutes of play. They also witnessed physical, mental and emotional improvements such as patients no longer needing wheelchairs or assistance to walk; number of patients with acute depression falling; and some had their dementia rating downgraded by the end of the study.
Meanwhile, in the UK, care homes for the elderly are also realising the potential benefits for their residents. Iain Batchelor, a trainer at Abbeyfield Girton Green said, “Our ping pong club has become a regular weekly activity and we have made sure that the tables are accessible at all times for residents and their families by placing them in our communal area. By having these facilities on site, it allows the residents to meet and socialise with each other whilst keeping active and healthy at the same time. Many residents have seen improvements with regards to balance, improved leg strength and hand to eye co-ordination skills.”
T3 Ping Pong takes these benefits to a whole new level with six players around the table at the same time, meaning you have to keep your eye on three opponents, not just one. The game is played on a circular table with specially constructed nets adding yet another dimension to the game.
T3 Ping Pong has many over-80s fans who not only enjoy playing ping pong, but relish the social element as well. Andre Leung, 83, hosts a regular match with a group of friends. “It started out as a novelty, but now we wouldn’t miss our Monday matches. I come away from the table feeling really alive and motivated. I’m sure that’s to do with how much I have to concentrate while I’m playing as well as the good old gossip in between the rallies!”
(1) ‘The Effectiveness of Exercise Intervention on Brain Disease Patients: Utilizing Table Tennis as a Rehabilitation Program’ conducted by Dr. Teruaki Mori and Dr. Tomohiko Sato.
Image courtesy of the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health and Image courtesy of SAEF
Ping-Pong Improves Brain Function
It’s More Than A Fun Game
It also helps with detection and treatment of autism, Asperger’s, Alzheimer’s, dyslexia, and more.
The unpredictability and high speed of play require mental and physical agility. Making speedy decisions, exercising fine-motor control, and developing highly efficient hand-eye coordination can help improve function in both the primary motor cortex and cerebellum.Like most clubs, the first few meetings attracted a crowd of curious teens, but as the year progressed, the club started to shrink in size. Eventually it was reduced to about 10 loyal participants. I was really surprised to notice that almost all of them were students with special needs.
I wondered why. A little research clarified that Ping-Pong (also known as table tennis) is considered a “brain sport.” It activates different parts of the brain simultaneously and stimulates overall awareness, while its fast pace helps sharpen alertness and decision making. Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and psychology at New York University, cites the sport’s impressive and varied benefits: “In Ping-Pong, we have enhanced motor functions, enhanced strategy functions, and enhanced long-term memory functions.” The unpredictability and high speed of play require mental and physical agility. Making speedy decisions, exercising fine-motor control, and developing highly efficient hand-eye coordination can help improve function in both the primary motor cortex and cerebellum.
Rob Bernstein, an autism and Asperger’s specialist, has used table tennis in workshops with children with disabilities in order to improve their social and motor skills. Ping-Pong can also help diagnose ADHD, autism, and dyslexia. The eye tracking involved in games requiring hand-eye coordination has been shown to be effective for early detection of these disorders. “Ping-Pong provides the perfect opportunity for me to help these kids deal with social interactions,” he says. “They have to be able to say ‘nice shot’ when an opponent gets a point, ask someone new to play—even just learn how to play by the rules.”
The students in my club played with enthusiasm and cooperation, even if upon joining the group they were having trouble connecting with others. It wound up being not just fun for them individually but a socially stimulating activity that helped them interact with each other.
Elderly Ping-Pong players tend to experience functional improvements in the frontal lobes of the brain, which regulate decision making, problem solving, and voluntary movements. Patients who went through a table tennis rehabilitation program also tended to be less dependent on wheelchairs.But the benefits don’t stop there. Patients with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease have also been helped by treatment programs using Ping-Pong. A 1997 clinical study in Japan discovered that people with brain diseases who played the game experienced a boost in brain function and awareness, as well as a decrease in dementia and depression. The study found that elderly Ping-Pong players tend to experience functional improvements in the frontal lobes of the brain, which regulate decision making, problem solving, and voluntary movements. Patients who went through a table tennis rehabilitation program also tended to be less dependent on wheelchairs.
These observed treatment effects have prompted places like the Gilbert Table Tennis Center in Los Angeles to implement table tennis therapy programs. Here, Alzheimer’s patients take hourlong “lessons” that involve simple volley exercises, and the results have been promising for improving memory.
Now when I pick up my paddle, I think of all the benefits this simple, fun game can give players—athletically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively. Who would have thought that sending a little white ball over a net could accomplish so much?
Copy by Violet Decker
NO.1 BRAIN SPORT
This is your brain on Ping Pong
Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, puts on a good front.“I have a paddle and I have a paddle case, which makes me look very professional,” she confessed to a crowd at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. “But, in fact, I suck.”Sarandon admits that despite co-owning the table tennis franchise, SPiN, her game is not for show. But according to one New York professor, Sarandon could be doing more than just having a little fun with friends.
“In ping pong, we have enhanced motor functions, enhanced strategy functions and enhanced long-term memory functions,” explained Dr. Wendy Suzuki, professor of neuroscience and psychology at New York University.
According to Suzuki, table tennis works parts of the brain that are responsible for movement, fine motor skills and strategy — areas that could be growing stronger with each match. While scientists have yet to study the brain activity of ping pong players, Suzuki believes the game enhances brain function unlike any other sport.
Table Tennis Is the No. 1 Brain Sport, Scientists Say
Researchers at The American Museum of Natural History invited Sarandon, Suzuki and a panel of table tennis enthusiasts to become part of their latest exhibition, “Brain: The Inside Story. ”
For one night under the iconic blue whale, high above the museum floor, visitors listened to the science behind one of America’s favorite basement pastimes. While the ping pong discussion was limited to one night, the brain exhibition continues through the summer.
“Table tennis is the number one brain sport, so we figured this was a great way to get people interested in the brain because a lot of people play table tennis,” explained Rob DeSalle, curator for the Museum.
Holding a human brain to get players’ attentions, Suzuki pointed out specific areas that are stimulated by playing table tennis.
According to Suzuki, there are three major areas affected by this high-speed game. The fine motor control and exquisite hand-eye coordination involved with dodging and diving for the ball engages and enhances the primary motor cortex and cerebellum, areas responsible for arm and hand movement.
Ping Pong, Like Chess, Involves Strategy
Secondly, by anticipating an opponent’s shot, a player uses the prefrontal cortex for strategic planning. Lastly, the aerobic exercise from the physical activity of the game stimulates the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for allowing us to form and retain long-term facts and events.
“There’s a lot of strategy and the area that gets enhanced is the prefrontal cortex, critical not only in ping pong, but also in chess,” said Suzuki.
That could explain why fellow panelist, Will Shortz, calls ping pong, “chess on steroids.” Since 1993, Shortz has been the man responsible for deciding just how much strategy is needed to solve crossword puzzles for The New York Times.
A self-confessed table tennis addict and puzzle editor, Shortz says the key to both of his favorite activities is strategy.
“Crosswords and table tennis go great together, they’re both mind sports,” he said.
Last November, 11-year-old Alex Lipan focused all of his attention on that bouncing ball to become the top-ranked table tennis player, for ages 12 and under, in the state of New York.
Copy taken from ABC News