National Parkinson’s Awareness Month Interview with Robert Edwards, M.D.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects roughly one in 100 people over the age of 60. With no biomarker or objective test to make a definitive diagnosis, PD has kept researchers searching for clues on how to treat, and hopefully prevent, the disease.

April is National Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, and so we sat down with Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member Robert Edwards, M.D., who specializes in the treatment of PD at the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic. Edwards is a professor of neurology and physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. His lab has received international recognition for demonstrating that vesicular monoamine transport protects against MPTP toxicity, suggesting an important mechanism that may also protect against Parkinson’s.

robertedwards

Robert Edwards, M.D.

Regular exercise is proven to have positive effects on gait speed, strength, balance, and overall quality of life for people with PD. Though studies are still limited, dance therapy is said to greatly improve quality of life for this group, even more so than typical exercise. Can you talk a little bit about this?

RE: I am not an expert in this area, but exercise has clear short-term effects on function and for those more severely affected, on quality of life—those earlier in the disease are doing pretty well in any case. Presumably, exercise helps by improving the function of the basal ganglia circuitry that controls movement, much as it would in normal individuals. Dance therapy focuses on balance and other aspects of motor function different from standard exercises, so might be expected to add something new. Continue reading

Successful Aging & Your Brain at Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

After an inaugural, successful, and sold-out program last September, Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan partnered with the Dana Foundation once again to present Successful Aging & Your Brain (SA&YB) Tuesday evening—this time in celebration of Brain Awareness Week!

Speaker Matthew Fink, M.D., Neurologist-in-Chief at New York-Presbysterian and chairman, neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine, has participated as a panelist for SA&YB programs multiple times and has also frequently spoken at Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. He discussed brain function, changes in the brain as we age, memory, brain diseases and disorders, and maximizing brain function and health.

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New Year’s Resolution: Successful Aging & Your Brain

The beginning of a new year usually starts with resolutions–to eat healthier, to exercise more, or to improve quality of life in some way. Keeping your brain healthy, understanding how the brain works, and learning how to maximize brain function should be added to that list! Good mental health or “cognitive fitness” are as important to a good overall quality of life as physical health– in fact, the two are related!

You can get started on your brain-y new year’s resolution by reading our Successful Aging & Your Brain booklet, which explains how people of all ages can improve their brain fitness (pages 18 to 32) while also focusing on how the brain (specifically memory) works and what types of brain diseases and disorders can affect adults later in life. The ways to keep your brain healthy can be broken down into four steps–or factors–of successful aging that have been scientifically proven to make a difference.

Our short Successful Aging & Your Brain video outlines the four factors that contribute to a brain-healthy lifestyle.

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Free Public Briefing on Neurotechnology and the Military

In the Washington, DC area on Friday lunchtime? Come learn about cutting-edge, brain-related technologies that are particularly relevant to members of the military and their families.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Come to a free public luncheon briefing, “Neurotechnology and the Military,” hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), through the support of the Dana Foundation, and in conjunction with the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus.

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Successful Aging & Your Brain PSA Available in Spanish!

¿Hablas español? ¿Quieres aprender más sobre el envejecimiento provechoso? Spanish speakers, you’re in luck! Our award-winning Successful Aging & Your Brain video has been translated into Spanish and is now available to view on our YouTube channel. Check it out to learn the four steps you can start taking today to help keep your brain healthy into old age, based on research by the Institute of Medicine. It’s never too late to start living a brain-healthy life!

Looking for more information on the brain in Spanish? Our Successful Aging & Your Brain Spanish page has many resources, including our translated Successful Aging & Your Brain booklet.

– Ali Chunovic

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