Memory Loss: What We’ve Learned About Dementia and Alzheimer’s

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We definitely see an increase I think in Alzheimer's and related problems. Big reason is I think awareness. A decade ago, people tended to accept memory loss and were much less likely to see a physician until late in the illness. The other big reason that this is increasing is the fact that we have an aging population, and age is the biggest risk factor for developing cognitive disorders.

We know that there are clear cut interventions that you can make to protect the brain. A lot of them around our heart, heart health is brain health. We have learned that exercise is incredibly good for the brain. When we exercise, we stimulate growth factors. The brain's craving those growth factors and without them, we think that the hippocampus dies.

So exercise, hypertension, diabetes, these are all not just threats to the heart, they are also threats to the brain. We really need to focus on outcomes, we need to focus on how people do it in a good way, not in a bad way and so I think we have to focus on prevention. We have to make sure that our treatable problems are being addressed and not just a focus on interventions.

We're hoping that the next generation of caregivers can find a new job, we're hoping that these diseases will be prevented and effectively treated. So caregivers can go on with the ageing process, do things that are creative and focus on grandchildren and the next generations. I'm also excited about personalized your precision medicine.

I'm really excited about the idea that we can study someone, they're genetics, they're imaging and understand their risk factors that they have for a degenerative disease. I think one of the huge changes in my lifetime in understanding how the brain works, it has been functional imaging this is a MRI technique that is increasingly advancing and it allows us to think about how different circuits in the brain are turning on and off and so I think this is a major enterprise across universities, psychology departments, neurology, psychiatry departments and so I think we are beginning to understand the exact circuit that is responsible for specific behaviors, cognitive sorts of functions.