News Roundup

New and Noteworthy Information—August 2017


Brain Training Shows Little Benefit

Commercial brain training with Lumosity has no effect on decision making or cognitive function beyond practice effects on training tasks, according to a study published online ahead of print July 10 in the Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers tested whether training executive cognitive function could influence choice behavior and brain responses. In a randomized controlled trial, 128 young adults (71 male) participated in 10 weeks of training with either a commercial web-based cognitive training program or web-based video games that do not specifically target executive function or adapt the level of difficulty throughout training. The participants also completed a series of cognitive tests that were not part of the training. Although both groups showed improvement, commercial brain training did not lead to more improvement than online video games did.

Kable JW, Caulfield MK, Falcone M, et al. No effect of commercial cognitive training on neural activity during decision-making. J Neurosci. 2017 Jul 10 [Epub ahead of print].

Sense of Purpose Linked to Better Sleep

A higher level of meaning and purpose in life among older adults is associated with better sleep quality and appears to protect against symptoms of sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome (RLS), according to a study published online ahead of print July 10 in Sleep Science and Practice. Included in this study were 825 nondemented older African Americans (n = 428) and whites (n = 397), from the Minority Aging Research Study and the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Participants completed a 32-item questionnaire assessing sleep quality and symptoms of sleep apnea, RLS, and REM sleep behavior disorder. Longitudinal follow-up data indicated that higher levels of purpose in life were associated with lower risk of sleep apnea at baseline, one-year follow-up, and two-year follow-up, and with reduced RLS symptoms at one-year and two-year follow-up.

Turner AD, Smith CE, Ong JC. Is purpose in life associated with less sleep disturbance in older adults? Sleep Sci Pract. 2017 July 10 [Epub ahead of print].

Can Breastfeeding Reduce MS Risk in Mothers?

Mothers who breastfeed longer may be at lower subsequent risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published online ahead of print July 12 in Neurology. Researchers recruited women with newly diagnosed MS or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and matched controls into the MS Sunshine Study from the membership of Kaiser Permanente Southern California. An in-person questionnaire was administered to collect behavioral and biologic factors to calculate ovulatory years. Among women who had live births, a cumulative duration of breastfeeding for 15 months or more was associated with a reduced risk of MS and CIS (adjusted odds ratio, 0.47). Being age 15 or older at menarche also was associated with a lower risk of MS and CIS (adjusted odds ratio, 0.56).

Langer-Gould A, Smith JB, Hellwig K, et al. Breastfeeding, ovulatory years, and risk of multiple sclerosis. Neurology. 2017 July 12 [Epub ahead of print].

Does Added Weight Increase Survival After Stroke?

People who are overweight or mildly obese survive strokes at a higher rate, compared with people of normal body weight, according to a study published June 24 in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Participants from the Framingham Heart Study were followed for as long as 10 years, with BMI measured prior to their strokes. Researchers compared all-cause mortality in participants stratified by prestroke weight. Separate analyses were performed for ischemic stroke and all stroke and for age-, sex-, and BMI category-matched stroke-free controls. There were 782 stroke cases and 2,346 controls. The association of reduced mortality with BMI of 25 or higher, compared with BMI of 18.5 to less than 25, was pronounced among ischemic stroke cases, but diminished with inclusion of hemorrhagic strokes.

Aparicio HJ, Himali JJ, Beiser AS, et al. Overweight, obesity, and survival after stroke in the Framingham Heart Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017;6(6).

Poor Sleep Linked to CSF Biomarkers

Self-reported poor sleep is associated with greater Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology in cognitively healthy adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published online ahead of print July 5 in Neurology. Researchers investigated the relationship between sleep quality and CSF Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in a cohort enriched for parental history of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. In all, 101 participants completed sleep assessments and CSF collection and were cognitively normal. CSF was assayed for biomarkers of amyloid metabolism and plaques, tau pathology, neuronal and axonal degeneration, neuroinflammation and astroglial activation, and synaptic dysfunction and degeneration. Worse subjective sleep quality, more sleep problems, and daytime somnolence were associated with greater Alzheimer’s disease pathology, indicated by lower CSF Aβ42/Aβ40 and higher t-tau/Aβ42, p-tau/Aβ42, MCP-1/Aβ42, and YKL-40/Aβ42.

Sprecher KE, Koscik RL, Carlsson CM, et al. Poor sleep is associated with CSF biomarkers of amyloid pathology in cognitively normal adults. Neurology. 2017 Jul 5 [Epub ahead of print].

Is There a Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and Melanoma?

Melanoma and Parkinson’s disease may be associated, according to a study published in the July issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. For phase I of the Rochester Epidemiology Project, investigators used records to identify patients with Parkinson’s disease and match three controls per case. During phase II of this study, all Rochester Epidemiology Project cases of melanoma were identified, with one control per case. Investigators used a Cox proportional hazards model to assess the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease after the index date in cases versus controls, and performed Kaplan-Meier analysis to determine the 35-year cumulative risk of Parkinson’s disease. Patients with Parkinson’s disease had a 3.8-fold increased likelihood of having preexisting melanoma, compared with controls. Patients with melanoma had a 4.2-fold increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Dalvin LA, Damento GM, Yawn BP, et al. Parkinson disease and melanoma: confirming and reexamining an association. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017;92(7):1070-1079.

Zolpidem Treats Various Neurologic Disorders

A systematic review shows that zolpidem can treat various neurologic disorders, most often related to movement disorders and disorders of consciousness, according to a literature review published online ahead of print June 26 in JAMA Neurology. The investigators searched for English-language articles, published by March 20, 2015, that examined the use of zolpidem for noninsomnia neurologic disorders. Searched databases included PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science Core Collection, the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, CENTRAL, and In all, 67 articles were eligible for full manuscript review. Thirty-one studies treated movement disorders, 22 treated disorders of consciousness, and 14 treated other neurologic conditions. The effects of zolpidem were wide ranging and generally lasted for one to four hours before the participant returned to baseline. Sedation was the most common adverse effect.

Bomalaski MN, Claflin ES, Townsend W, Peterson MD. Zolpidem for the treatment of neurologic disorders: a systematic review. JAMA Neurol. 2017 Jun 26 [Epub ahead of print].

Colored Light Triggers Responses in Migraineurs

Lights trigger more changes in autonomic functions and negative emotions during migraine than in control subjects, and the association between light and positive emotions is stronger in control subjects than in migraineurs, according to a study published online ahead of print June 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers showed different colored lights to 81 migraineurs and 17 people who had never had a migraine. The effects of light and color were tested three times. Investigators found that all colors of light triggered unpleasant physiologic sensations in patients with migraines, during and between attacks. Additionally, migraineurs reported intense emotional responses such as anger, nervousness, hopelessness, sadness, depression, anxiety, and fear when exposed to all light colors except green.

Noseda R, Lee AJ, Nir RR, et al. Neural mechanism for hypothalamic-mediated autonomic responses to light during migraine. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2017 Jun 26 [Epub ahead of print].

TBI May Not Hasten Cognitive Decline

Having a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) with loss of consciousness does not affect the rate of cognitive change over time for people with normal cognition or people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published online ahead of print June 22 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers compared performance on cognitive tests over time for 432 participants with normal cognition and 274 participants with probable Alzheimer’s disease. They matched participants with a history of TBI with loss of consciousness to an equal number of demographically and clinically similar participants without a history of TBI. Mixed-effects regressions showed that a history of TBI with loss of consciousness did not affect rates of cognitive change in APOE ε4 carriers and noncarriers.

Tripodis Y, Alosco ML, Zirogiannis N, et al. The effect of traumatic brain injury history with loss of consciousness on rate of cognitive decline among older adults with normal cognition and Alzheimer’s disease dementia. J Alzheimers Dis. 2017 Jun 22 [Epub ahead of print].

Visual Changes in Parkinson’s Disease

Visual system alterations can be detected in early stages of Parkinson’s disease, and the entire intracranial visual system can be involved, according to a study published online ahead of print July 11 in Radiology. Twenty patients with newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease and 20 age-matched control subjects were studied. Researchers used diffusion-weighted imaging to assess white matter changes and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to investigate concentration changes of gray and white matter. In patients with Parkinson’s disease, significant alterations were found in optic radiation connectivity distribution, with decreased lateral geniculate nucleus V2 density, a significant increase in optic radiation mean diffusivity, and a significant reduction in white matter concentration. VBM analysis also showed a significant reduction in visual cortical volumes.

Arrigo A, Calamuneri A, Milardi D, et al. Visual system involvement in patients with newly diagnosed Parkinson disease. Radiology. 2017 Jul 11 [Epub ahead of print].

Kimberly Williams

Next Article: