Whither Planet X?

Spitzer Space Telescope-used to confirm object 2005 FY9

Sometimes the things we profess to know, in fact we do not. See the splash of astronomical discoveries that have ocurred over the last week, changing our view of the solar system of the Sun.

No fewer than three so-called trans-Neptunian objects have been confirmed in the past week, meaning that there could be as few as ten and as many as 12 confirmed planets.

If we use Isaac Asimov's definition of mesoplanet, this number surges past 20.

Still, one thing for which no planetary scientists have a very good explanation is the phenomenon of the close-in gas giant which appears to be the most common extrasolar system configuration.

Perhaps rather than close-in gas giants, which orbit their stars at a distance which would put them, if they were in our solar system, somewhere between the orbit of Venus and Mercury, instead can be considered 'failed stars' that did not ignite.

Our understanding of the human mind, its processes, and conditions such as memory impairment are similarly hazy, though, through observation, we can come to some basic definitions and conclusions about what we are observing - the same with using our toolset to monitor your own cognitive performance...


Memory Loss Leads to Retirement...

FOXBORO - The thought of retiring never crossed Ted Johnson’s mind - not even after a troublesome visit to his personal physician - but the symptoms were impossible to ignore.

Headaches. Memory loss. Lack of sleep. Johnson knew something wasn’t right with his body after 10 years of playing professional football, and he ultimately decided to do what he felt was right for himself, his teammates and his family.

Johnson shocked the New England Patriots on Thursday by announcing his retirement after a successful career in which he won three Super Bowls and developed into one of the top linebackers in team history.

The 32-year-old Alameda, Calif., native said he could "no longer ignore the severe short- and long-term complications" of the concussions he sustained throughout the years. Johnson said he was diagnosed with "at least half a dozen" during his career.

A visit to the doctor during the offseason uncovered a case of head trauma, but Johnson didn’t think it was serious at first. He later underwent an MRI that confirmed his doctor’s initial diagnosis. Johnson had every intention to play this season until he discussed the situation with his family.

"I was ready to go, but the closer I got to camp the more I started feeling like my body was telling me something and I just couldn’t ignore the evidence that was there about the brain injuries and the concussions," he said. "It was something that I really wasn’t willing to take the risk for.

"I love the sport and everything football has given me. I love this community - and the fans, too. The fans have been hugely supportive of me my entire career. I was playing for all the pure reasons. Maybe I was trying to convince myself.Maybe if I said it then I could convince myself that this was the right thing. Quite honestly it hit me like a bolt of lightning. I couldn’t ignore this. I really needed to address it and I did. It was a very, very difficult decision."


More Advances in Articifial Thinking...

Professor Ishiguru (r) stresses the importance of appearance
Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised - a "female" android called Repliee Q1.

...She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human.

Repliee Q1 is not like any robot you will have seen before, at least outside of science-fiction movies.

She is designed to look human and although she can only sit at present, she has 31 actuators in her upper body, powered by a nearby air compressor, programmed to allow her to move like a human.

"I have developed many robots before," Repliee Q1's designer, Professor Ishiguro, told the BBC News website, "but I soon realised the importance of its appearance. A human-like appearance gives a robot a strong feeling of presence..."


Nutrition Portal

Debris Falling from Shuttle

What do you think of this? Drudge shows debris apparently falling from the Shuttle upon takeoff.



Take the Speed test.

Success can be linked to reaction time. Now you can see how quickly you can respond to a stimulus. How much latency exists in the process between seeing, thinking, and acting?

Plus, try our popular memory test. Or, play games.

Discovery in Space

The Discovery launches successfully...we wonder how the cognitive abilities are impacted during the moment of launch...


This is your brain...on Space

Zero G and I Feel Fine

Joseph Brean, of Canada's National Post (up in the Great White North) has written this really interesting piece on the effects of weightlessness on cognitive ability, which is reproduced here. It brings up some interesting questions:
1. what would happen to our cognitive ability over the long term in space
2. it seems as if performance on video games suffers
3. what does this portend for the erstwhile consumer space industry?

This is your brain in space

Joseph Brean
National Post

BORDEAUX, France - Kejia Zhu, a student at Imperial College London, is having some trouble playing his video games -- he keeps floating away from the computer.

To make matters worse, Melissa Daly, his partner in this pioneering science experiment on how brain activity changes in zero gravity, is incapacitated by nausea.

Here on the European Space Agency's experimental "weightlessness" airplane, the normal frustrations of young scientists -- stingy grants, self-important professors, poorly equipped labs -- seem distant. In their place are the otherworldly demands and weird sensations of working in zero gravity.

Despite the nausea, Ms. Daly has set her jaw and forced herself back to their workstation, where a new set of straps is holding Mr. Zhu firmly to the floor. He continues with his specially designed computer game, in which he tries to keep a moving target inside a little box while answering the brainteasers that flash on his screen, such as arithmetic questions or spatial reasoning tasks.

Any difference between his success rate on the ground and in the air will be good evidence that weightlessness has measurable effects on cognitive ability -- a finding with obvious relevance to the astronauts of the future.

Mr. Zhu and Ms. Daly are incredibly fortunate, both because of the million-dollar price tag of this week-long campaign of student experiments on which they won a coveted spot, but also because prolonged weightlessness is a remarkably recent and still mysterious phenomenon.

Just two generations ago, only NASA and the Soviets could do this sort of work. For a mere undergraduate, a study of how the human body reacts to weightlessness would have been nothing more than a daydream.

Indeed, it was not until the Second World War that any human -- in this case early fighter pilots -- enjoyed a sustained freefall and lived to tell about it. And it is less than half a century since American astronaut John Glenn announced from his first orbital space flight: "Zero G and I feel fine."

In the years since, scientists have made some basic discoveries, for instance that fish hatched on Earth swim with only minor difficulty in weightlessness, but fish born in weightlessness have no troubles at all.

From manned space flight, they learned that humans experience a loss of muscle mass, bone density, and some minor changes to heart and respiratory function. Astronauts also become taller by about an inch because their spines expand under the reduced stress of weightlessness.

But the greatest scientific insight into human weightlessness has been how far wrong the early scientists were in their predictions.

Astronauts' hearts did not wither away and stop beating, nor did they become disoriented and unable to work. The physician astronaut Joseph Kerwin slept on the Skylab space station wearing a "bunny cap" to analyze his dreams, but they were perfectly normal, and John Glenn's medical team fretted over the psychological effects he might experience, but did not. In the end, he found the whole experience "pleasant."

Today, data from dozens of human space flights have helped to narrow the big questions down, and reveal many more that have never before been asked. Indeed, the line-up of studies on last week's campaign in Bordeaux reveals a far more nuanced view of weightlessness studies.

No longer are scientists asking whether people can eat and digest in space. Now they are studying an edible bacteria that could be used to nourish astronauts on extra-long voyages, such as to Mars, and whether they can explain why some astronauts seem to lose their sense of taste.

They are no longer worried about astronauts losing their mind. Instead they are studying how single brain cells react to zero gravity, or whether weightlessness affects how people recognize faces. And the lone Canadian team is studying whether the increased blood flow to the head (which happens because the heart no longer has to pump against gravity) somehow compromises peripheral vision.

One team has even taken inspiration from the shower facilities on Skylab, which were cumbersome and had to be dried by hand, and designed a shower compartment inspired by the water-repellent surface of the lotus flower.

And every team, of course, took some time away from their research to do some of the best somersaults of their lives.

Back on the ground, the debriefing session reveals that this flight, during which the students experienced weightlessness 31 times for about 30 seconds each, was not an overwhelming success. Many pieces of apparatus failed, or did not behave as expected, and at least five experimenters were too sick to work. Some of the teams were left with only the memory of the flight; they collected no useful data.

Within minutes of this disappointing news, however, the workshop was buzzing with the sounds of drills and the tapping of keyboard keys. There is another flight tomorrow, with one more chance to get it right.

Tomorrow: From surgery in space to why women seem to be better

New Protein may help fight Alzheimer's

Scientists say they have discovered a protein that could be injected to repair damaged nerves and brain cells.

The protein, KDI tripeptide, works by blocking the harmful effects of a substance present in degenerative brain diseases and spinal cord injuries.

By blocking this substance, called glutamate, KDI prevents permanent cell death and helps the body heal itself.

The Finnish work from the University of Helsinki will be published online by the Journal of Neuroscience Research


Sizzlin'...MemCheck Podcast Blues

Yow! that thermometer is glowing. Look at that red stuff risin'.

Thanks for everybody signing up. Take a listen and you'll hear about our 30 day discount period, and you'll hear a little accoustic blues riff from yours truly, right for the season, it'll get you slowed down.



Game of the Day....Mission Mars

photo from Famous Images at IMDB.com

In today's game you take on a future mission in a saucer chaped craft against the skyscrapers of the Martians. You use the space bar in this exercise. As you will see your timing is pretty important, and you will not only have to be 'quick' but also be able to anticipate.

Best of Luck. Earth is counting on you.


Make History....Join Now

Now you can make History

You can do this by joining today and supporting the world's largest memory checking and monitoring service. There is a great deal right now. Take a free test, and if you subscribe at either paid level, we're giving you 30 days free access --showing up on your statement.

30 Days Free. Sign up right here. If you already took the free test, just enter in the user name and password you already created and you will be right there.

Plus, looking back, you'll be able to say you were among the people that helped drive one of the 21st century's most amazing phenomena --in its early days.

Now that it's getting "cool" it won't be too long before just about everybody will be on the bandwagon. Be there, or be square.

Plus, heck, you get all the free games you can play.....That's all for now!


60 years ago

From Yahoo!

A nuclear cloud. Sixty years after the first atomic bomb was tested in the New Mexico desert, the United States still has some 2,000 nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert and is considering new weapons such as earth-penetrating bunker busters...


What's Normal

Normal means different things to different people.

One of the advantages of 'speed' testing alone is that it discriminates less
according to cultural variables.

Instead, it measures pure speed. How long does it take for cognition, response, reaction? All electrical impulses.

Take our quick one minute test and find out.


Sunday Topic: Reversing Damage to Mind and Body

Undoing The Damage You Did
Dr. Mallika Marshall Offers Some Tips:

NEW YORK (CBS) Almost everyone has done things in the past they later come to regret.

Maybe you smoked, drank too much on occasion or spent countless hours baking in the sun.

Dr. Mallika Marshall has some tips on what you can do to reverse or prevent further damage.

"If you're young, quit while you're ahead," Marshall says. "But if you've made some unhealthy choices in the past, it isn't too late to stop, and you may be able to repair some of the damage and prevent further injury from occurring."

On The Saturday Early Show, she offers the following tips:

Excess Sun Exposure: You have to remember that most of the sun damage we suffer occurs before the age of 18. So if you tended to lay out until you were a crispy critter, or you spent endless hours in the tanning salon as a young person, chances are you've already sustained some sun damage.

What to do: Catch any potential problems early. That means checking your skin on a regular basis for unusual spots or suspicious moles and getting in to see a dermatologist right away. If you detect skin cancer early, it can be treated and even cured, so don't hesitate to be seen.

To prevent further damage, avoid excessive sun exposure and wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Smoking: We know that smoking can lead to a whole host of medical problems, including cancer, lung disease, heart disease and problems with circulation.

What to do: If you quit smoking, even if you've smoked for a long time or heavily in the past, you can reduce that increased risk of disease considerably. For example, one year after quitting, people can cut their risk of heart disease in half, and after 15 years of not smoking, the risk approaches that of someone who never smoked at all. That said, however, it's best not to start in the first place.

Binge Drinking: Unfortunately, a lot of people have binged at some point in their lives, especially in their youth. And binge drinking cannot only impair your judgment and cause car accidents, but it can also lead to alcohol dependence, can cause liver damage, and can also lead to memory and cognitive impairment.

What to do: If you quit drinking before too much damage is done, you may be able to reverse some of the liver damage and memory problems.

Loud Music: About 28 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, with an increasing number of baby boomers and young people. Many people are guilty of listening to music too loudly, whether it's with our Walkman or iPods, in the car, or at rock concerts.

Loud music can cause lasting damage to the sensitive hair cells in your ears. You may first notice loss of middle-frequency sounds, such as the human voice; then, high-frequency sounds, such as alarm buzzers or telephone rings.

What to do: While you cannot repair hearing loss, you can prevent further loss by turning down the volume. If you do a job that involves loud noises (like jackhammers or airplane engines), always wear earplugs to prevent hearing loss. If you have unexplained hearing loss, especially in only one ear, see your doctor right away.

Yo-Yo Dieting: Yo-Yo dieting is defined as repeatedly losing and then gaining the weight back. Sometimes, you end up gaining back more weight than you lost in the first place.

What to do: Instead of fad dieting, however, you should consider a weight maintenance program where you maintain contact with nutritionists and dietitians who can help you safely and effectively keep the weight off.


Alzheimer's Research

Here is a fascinating new development in Alzheimer's Research

University of Minnesota researchers have figured out a way to reverse memory loss in mice with dementia. The discovery could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease in humans. The findings are published in the latest edition of the journal "Science."

Minneapolis, Minn. — In the study, mice were genetically altered to develop a rare form of dementia found in humans. To do that U of M researchers used a special gene, known as a transgene, that contained a mutant form of a common protein called tau.

Tau is one of two proteins widely associated with Alzheimer's disease. The scientists then created a way to turn the defective tau protein on and off using a common antibiotic.

When the mice were a month old, researchers tested their memory capacity for the first time in a water maze. Lead author of the study, Dr. Karen Ashe, says the maze consisted of a small pool with a hidden platform that was submerged about a half a centimeter below the surface.

"Mice are really good swimmers, but they don't like to swim," says Ashe. "So they're motivated to find the platform."

The platform was kept in the same place until the young mice learned where it was located. Then researchers removed it and measured the percentage of time that the mice spent looking for the platform in the correct location in the pool.

"Even though this test seems like a very simple test, it's actually fairly complex for a mouse," says Ashe. "And it tests a part of the brain that really is critical for initiating and consolidating memories."

Since the mice were only a month old, their dementia wasn't noticeable yet and Ashe says they performed well in the maze. She says they spent about 50 percent of their time in the correct quadrant of the pool as they searched for the missing platform.

But as the mice aged and their dementia progressed, their success rate dropped significantly, just as Ashe thought would happen.

That's when researchers decided to shut off the defective tau transgene. Then, they tested the mice again. The findings were much better than expected.

"We were quite surprised with the results of the experiment, because we had expected that we would halt the progression of memory loss," says Ashe. "But we actually restored memory in these mice." Entire Story


The Millisecond Advantage

Better Brainspeed...the advantage of speed

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Video game players may spend a lot of time on the couch, but when they're ready to go out they can find their keys quicker than the rest of us, a study suggests.

Researchers found that gamers who devote much of their free time to Grand Theft Auto and Super Mario may be able to scan their environment and spot the target of their search more quickly than non-gamers can.

In experiments with college students who were either hard-core video game players or novices, the researchers found that players were quicker to detect target objects on a busy computer screen than their peers were.

The findings, published in the journal Acta Psychologica, suggest that the vigilant watchfulness video games require makes for quicker visual processing.

Gamers' brains don't appear to have any specialized search strategy, they're just faster, explained lead study author Dr. Alan Castel, a post-doctorate fellow in psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Specifically, both groups of students were similar when it came to the search principle of "inhibition of return." According to Castel, this means that when people look for their keys, they look in one place, and if the keys aren't there, they will look in a number of other spots before giving the original location a second go-around.

In the experiments, he told Reuters Health, video gamers used the same search strategy as non-gamers did. "They just executed it faster," he said.

What this means for real life is uncertain. The advantage video game players held over their peers was on the order of 100 milliseconds, Castel noted.

It's possible, though, that a gamer's speedier visual processing could make the difference between, for example, crashing a car and averting an accident, according to Castel.

That doesn't mean, however, that people should take up video games to improve their driving records. That 100-millisecond advantage could take a lot of playing time, Castel said; gamers in his study played 6 days a week, on average, for about 2 hours each day.

Video games have been much criticized for their violent content and for contributing to couch-potato lifestyles. This study, Castel noted, doesn't judge video games as "good" or "bad." It just suggests they feed a very particular expertise.

The main research interest, according to Castel, is in whether video games, through effects on visual processing, attention and movement, can be useful in rehabilitating the brain -- after a stroke, for instance, or in cases of age-related memory loss.


Clinical Research

Want to be involved in research testing new products? To do that, just go to our cognitivelabs.com homepage, click on the link to "clinical trials" and there, you will go to a descriptive page telling you about one of the current research efforts. But, there are others as well. If you interested in getting involved, just click through to the secure link and let us know. Companies test new compunds before they are put on the market to see if they are effective.



How fast could we react if there was a quake-driven tsunami warning here on the West Coast? The primary threats would seem to be the subduction zone off the West Coast and the Cascade volcanos (Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, Mt. St Helens, Mt. Baker, and especially the bulging ice cream cone of Mt. Rainier. A less prominent, though no less potent threat is the Medicine Hat Volcano which is a large "flat" plateau of lava which could suddenly explode. Geologists think there could be a one-two punch - an earthquake off the coast triggering the eruption inland or the other way around.

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Tales about "Thunderbird" and "Whale" by native tribes along the U.S. West Coast, along with geological clues, point to at least two massive quakes and tsunamis that have hit the area in the last 1,100 years, a researcher said on Monday.

"Native people here were well aware that earthquakes happened and that is reflected in their oral traditions," said Ruth Ludwin, a University of Washington researcher who recently published two papers detailing such folklore.

In one tale, the mythical wind creature "Thunderbird" drives its talons into "Whale's" back and is dragged to the bottom of the ocean, which she said could be interpreted as a tsunami-like event.

The stories were collected from native tribes in northern California, Oregon, Washington and just south of Canada's Vancouver Island.

Ludwin, who collaborated with seismologists, said she began looking into the region's "geomythology" six years ago because of the lack of such data, which can be found in other areas such as Japan and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

In December, a 9.15 magnitude earthquake erupted off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island. The quake, the strongest in 40 years, sent walls of water as high as 33 feet barrelling into 13 Indian Ocean nations and killed 160,000 people. Last month, a major 7.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of northern California triggered tsunami alerts along most of the U.S. West Coast. The alarm was quickly called off and there were no casualties or damage.

The Cascadia subduction zone, which generates much of the seismic activity in the Pacific Northwest, had at least seven major earthquakes in the last 3,500 years, according to researchers.

One massive earthquake is estimated to have hit the region in 900, while eyewitness accounts from the 19th century point to a huge earthquake and tsunami that hit the area in 1700.

The One Minute Speed Test

How fast can you think? We've just added a new test....PURE THINKING SPEED...or reaction time. In this test, you only use the down-arrow key. Hit it as quickly as the target shows up. Read more about the theory...from Dr. Ian Dreary and colleagues in Scotland


What's Your Favorite Game?

Top Games.

1. Tetris
2. Letter Rip
3. Mission 2 Mars. Sorry no Tim Robbins in this one.

War on Terror picked up too. Not a bad time for an Al-Qaida knuckle sandwich. Today is all time traffic high for our games pages, which we have not even announced yet.

If you couldn't take you test today we're sorry, blame Java. Try again now!


Exercise helps fight Alzheimer's

For years, doctors have said exercise can slow some of the damage - particularly physical impairment - caused by Alzheimer's disease.

Now, a new study supports that advice.

Alzheimer's patients who were coached through a home exercise program by caretakers who also were trained in managing behavioral problems were less depressed and in better physical shape than a matched group of patients who were left to their own devices, says the report by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The trial was not aimed at the mental deterioration that is the best known and most dreaded aspect of Alzheimer's disease. Instead, the researchers tried to affect the less publicized loss of physical ability that makes patients more prone to injuries and to lose mobility, putting extra burdens on themselves and the people who look after them.

"Improved physical conditioning for patients with Alzheimer's disease may extend their independent mobility and enhance their quality of life despite progression of the disease," says the study, which appears in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The trial included 153 Seattle-area residents with Alzheimer's disease. Of these, 76 were assigned to get the normal care for the disease. The others were given that same care, plus they and the people who looked after them were also enrolled in a RDAD (Reducing Disability in Alzheimer's Disease) program developed by university researchers.

For three months, training sessions taught the caretakers how to get the Alzheimer's patients to do exercises designed to increase strength, mobility, balance and flexibility.

These are the simplest possible exercises, says study author Linda Teri, a professor in the university's department of psychosocial and community health: "Stretching, bending, even just walking in a straight line." Some patients worked out with half-pound weights on their wrists or with elastic bands they pulled apart.

Because Alzheimer's patients sometimes become belligerent, the caretakers were trained to avoid conflicts with the patients. "Patients can resist attempts to care for them if they are depressed," Teri says. "The idea was to make the patients feel that an activity was something they wanted to do."

After three months, the patients in the RDAD group were three times more likely to exercise for at least one hour a week and had two-thirds fewer days of restricted activity. The physical ability of those in the RDAD group improved over the next two years, while it deteriorated in the patients not given the training. And only 19 percent of those in the RDAD group had to be institutionalized in nursing homes, compared to 50 percent in the other group...


score interpretation

When you take your free test.....you get a text based score, when you subscribe, you get a graphical score. We have added this page to help explain .


Mind Games...Healthy Aging

From Sydney Morning Herald -Australia

...It is the revenge of the nerds. But unlike in the 1980s B-movie, the real-life version takes a little longer to reach its triumphant finale. Research shows young people with high IQs and many out-of-school interests are less likely to develop dementia when they are old.

The findings support the theory that the brain develops "hardware reserves" early in life, which protect against later mental deterioration.

US researchers looked at the academic history of 396 elderly people, with an average age of 75, who were all graduates of the same high school in the mid-1940s. They cross-referenced the subjects' IQs as adolescents and the number of out-of school activities they did with their current mental state.

They found the risk for dementia and its precursor, mild cognitive impairment, for people who took part in two or more extracurricular activities a year was about one-third that of those who took part in fewer than two activities a year. Those with a higher IQ had half the risk of developing dementia.

"The evidence supports the possible protective role of activity levels in avoiding a diagnosis of dementia," said Professor Helen Christensen, the director of the Australian National University Centre for Mental Health Research.

The study authors, writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, postulated that the protective effect of IQ and activity might be due to the "reserve theory", which suggests that some people are able to withstand a greater amount of brain damage before reaching the threshold for dementia. The research also suggested that teenagers with a lower IQ could reduce their vulnerability to dementia by taking up more activities.

But Mitchell Ferguson, 9, did not take up his favourite extracurricular activity, chess, to offset his risk of developing dementia in later life. He plays the game because he loves it, so much so that he spent the first day of his school holidays at a chess coaching clinic in Lidcombe, with 54 other children aged six to 14.

Richard Gastineau-Hills, the tournament co-ordinator for the NSW Junior Chess League, which organised the clinic, said chess combined brain "exercise" with social activity.

"I think a lot of them like the competitive aspect of it, and meeting other players," he said.

Mitchell agreed that chess was challenging and interesting, but said his motivation was less noble: he wanted revenge on his uncle, whom he lost to last time they played.


Teen IQ Linked to Alzheimer's Risk

Wow...Study links adolescent IQ/activity levels with risk of dementia. Better do everything you can to build and 'maintain' the mind.

Start with Game Central. Now we've made it real easy to tell 2 friends, and they tell 2 friends, just like the shampoo commercial of yore...

Your IQ and extracurricular interests as a teenager may forecast your memory and thinking abilities decades later.

A new study by researchers at the University Memory and Aging Center, affiliated with Case Western Reserve University (Case) and University Hospitals of Cleveland (UHC), found that persons who were more active in high school and who had higher IQ scores, were less likely to have mild memory and thinking problems and dementia as older adults. Their results are published in the July 2005 issue of The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Said Thomas Fritsch, Ph.D., the study's lead author, "We found that, controlling for gender and education level, higher adolescent IQ and greater activity level were each independently associated with a lower risk for dementia and mild cognitive impairments. Conversely, those who were lower on the IQ continuum and who participated in fewer activities in high school had a higher risk of cognitive impairments."

Dementia broadly refers to neurological conditions that cause decline in memory and thinking abilities (cognition) and the ability to perform activities of daily living. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in persons 65 years and older. According to estimates from the Alzheimer's Association, 4.5 million people have Alzheimer's nationally.

"The findings may help scientists in their efforts to understand the earliest roots of dementia," said Fritsch. "The knowledge gained from our research may also be useful to those who are developing models of AD. Such models might provide clues as to when it's best to try intervene with new therapies and treatments for persons with memory problems. The findings may also help those who are seeking ways to prevent the development of memory problems in adulthood."

The Case researchers used historical data from high school records and yearbooks from the mid-1940s to create a picture of the students' abilities and interests as teens. In 2002, interviews with the graduates, now in their 70s, and their family members were conducted to learn about the adult cognitive status of each subject. The research team reported on data collected from nearly 400 graduates.

"We found some very interesting associations between our early-life and late-life measures," said Fritsch. The article was written by Fritsch, an instructor of neurology at the Case School of Medicine and collaborators in the University Memory and Aging Center and at John Carroll University. The research was supported by grants from the NIH-NIA and the American Health Assistance Foundation.

A particular strength of the Case study is the use of objective measures of cognitive ability (IQ) collected in the teen years. Also, no study has yet reported on associations between teen activity levels and dementia risk using objective measures (i.e., extracurricular activity participation).

According to Fritsch, "Our findings confirm that markers for dementia risk can be found early in life. However, while our research implicates a role for IQ and activity level in youth, many other factors, alone or in combination, also influence who will and will not develop dementia. As we know, some very bright and active people develop dementia, while others who are less gifted and who were inactive as teenagers, do not. This indicates that the causes of dementia are complex and are determined by a host of factors."

According to the Case research team, it is premature to make lifestyle recommendations to teenagers based only on a single study. However, Fritsch commented, "It's a safe bet that being intellectually engaged, physically active, and socially connected has many health benefits across the lifespan and is to be recommended."

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