Every 67 Seconds: Genetics in Alzheimer’s Disease

Mayeux_2012Genes passed down from generation to generation within families are the main culprit in contracting Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research for the disease is focusing on individual variations of these genes, instead of trying to find a “one size fits all” treatment.

That was part of the message delivered by Richard Mayeux, the Gertrude H. Sergieysky co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center. Mayeux’s talk on the role that genetics plays in Alzheimer’s disease last Thursday evening at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan came at an opportune time. November is both National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month and National Epilepsy Awareness Month.

Mayeux, M.D., MS.c., who is also Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Epidemiology and a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, has been featured in the New York Academy of Sciences podcast series, Dementia Decoded. His research on genomes aims to understand the differences in gene structure and what it could mean for future treatment.

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Music Makes Its Case for Neurological Respect

City Winery in Manhattan was a most appropriate venue to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. And while not very much music was heard at the IMNF-sponsored forum, music’s impact on the brain was certainly in the air as neuroscientists, music therapists, and one rock music luminary covered the many ways in which music may affect brain development, cognition, and healing.

After all was said and done, however, one point seemed to hover above all the rest: the inability on the part of researchers to produce replicated studies that link the benefits of music to cognitive function.

Hart (left) and Gazzaley (right). Photo credit: Edward Bilsky

Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart (left) and neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley (right). Photo credit: Edward Bilsky

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Epilepsy Awareness Month

While epilepsy ranks fourth in most common neurological disorders, there are still common misconceptions about the condition, which can develop at any age. In the US alone, 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime.

Photo courtesy of Roberto Tuchman

Photo courtesy of Roberto Tuchman

With November being “National Epilepsy Awareness Month,” we spoke to Roberto Tuchman, M.D., who is the director of autism and neurodevelopment programs at Miami Children’s Hospital. Tuchman founded the hospital’s Dan Marino Center for children with developmental disorders and gives lectures around the world on the topics of epilepsy, autism, and learning disorders. He is also a Dana Alliance member.

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Is Gender Hard-Wired in Our Brains?

Men and women are obviously born physically different, but are our brains hard-wired to display masculine and feminine traits? Wednesday’s SciCafé event, “How the Brain Shows its Feminine Side,” at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, explored this question.

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A Ghostly Presence

Walking through New York City’s Chelsea Market Wednesday evening, it was hard not to notice the macabre graveyard scenery, hanging ghosts, and appendages crawling out of the walls. There was even an installed pipe coming out of the ceiling that had a torrent of “red water” falling into a sinkhole with zombie mannequins creeping out. It was entertaining, to say the least, and visitors were loving it.

But what is it about Halloween that gets people so worked up? Surely, it can’t be just the candy—that can be found on store shelves all year round. For a brief moment, the month of October allows us to unearth our fascination with morbid ideas such as vampires, haunted houses, and ghosts. Beyond the grisly decorations, there are varying superstitions about apparitions and the otherworldly in cultures throughout the world; but how do we explain the unintentional occurrences that spook us into believing in ghosts?

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

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