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Cognitive skills of older people improve in autumn

12th October 2018

A new study conducted by the University of Toronto has discovered that brain functionality greatly improves during autumn. Challenging 3,353 people with a series of memory tests, researchers found that during the period between September and October, over-70’s brains are working as though they were almost five years younger.

It is suggested that by the year 2025, the number of people living in Britain is suggested to increase to 1 million. Currently though, for the 850,000 people currently suffering from the disease, there is no way of halting or limiting the effects of Alzheimer’s. Not only does it create problems with memory, but also language and mobility, with many needing the assistance of a stairlift for older people.

For older people who are suffering from dementia, a careful analysis was undertaken to look at the genes and proteins that cause the disease. The study published in the journal, PLOS Medicine, which involved people from France, Canada and the US detected a change in the proteins over winter, meaning that screening for Alzheimer’s-related illnesses such as dementia during this time may be more effective.

Although the researchers are currently unaware of why the cognitive performance of over-70’s brains improve during this time, monitoring the proteins in the brain have begun to look at possible explanations. In addition to the proteins, they noticed a difference in their cerebrospinal fluid, which could be due to varying levels of Vitamin D, melatonin and sex hormones.

“There may be value in increasing dementia-related clinical resources in the winter and early spring when symptoms are likely to be most pronounced”, commented lead author Dr Andrew Lim, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Toronto. “By shedding light on the mechanisms underlying the seasonal improvement in cognition in the summer and early fall, these findings also open the door to new avenues of treatment for Alzheimer's disease.”

With participant’s brains experiencing a “dip” in performance during winter, researchers have suggested that testing for neurodegenerative illnesses during this time may be more beneficial. “It was clinically significant, as reflected in a nearly 30 per cent higher odds of meeting criteria for mild cognitive impairment or dementia in winter and spring compared to summer and fall, and it persisted in cases with pathologically confirmed Alzheimer's disease.”

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.