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posted by janrinok on Tuesday January 24, @02:24PM   Printer-friendly

Turning off Waze or your favorite GPS app and using an old-fashioned map may be the best way to fight Alzheimer's disease, a new study reveals:

Researchers at McMaster University say orienteering, an outdoor sport that exercises the mind and body through navigation puzzles, can train the brain and stave off cognitive decline. The aim of orienteering is to navigate between checkpoints or controls marked on a special map. In competitive orienteering, the challenge is to complete the course in the quickest time.

For older adults, scientists say the sport — which sharpens navigational skills and memory — could become a useful intervention measure to fight off the slow decline related to dementia onset. They believe the physical and cognitive demands of orienteering can stimulate parts of the brain our ancient ancestors used for hunting and gathering.

The human brain evolved thousands of years ago to adapt to harsh environments by creating new neural pathways, the McMaster team explains. Those same brain functions are not always necessary today, however, thanks to GPS apps and food being readily available.

Unfortunately, the team says these skills fall into a "use it or lose it" situation.

[...] People who participated in orienteering displayed better spatial navigation and memory skills, suggesting that adding elements of wayfinding into their daily routines benefited them over their lifetime.

Journal Reference:
Emma E. Waddington, Jennifer J. Heisz. Orienteering experts report more proficient spatial processing and memory across adulthood, PLOS ONE (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280435)


Original Submission

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Beer hops compounds could help protect against Alzheimer's disease:

Beer is one of the oldest and most popular beverages in the world, with some people loving and others hating the distinct, bitter taste of the hops used to flavor its many varieties. But an especially "hoppy" brew might have unique health benefits. Recent research published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience reports that chemicals extracted from hop flowers can, in lab dishes, inhibit the clumping of amyloid beta proteins, which is associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD).

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Journal Reference:
Alessandro Palmioli, Valeria Mazzoni, Ada De Luigi, et al., Alzheimer's Disease Prevention through Natural Compounds: Cell-Free, In Vitro, and In Vivo Dissection of Hop (Humulus lupulus L.) Multitarget Activity, ACS Chem. Neurosci. 2022 DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.2c00444

Original Submission

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Scientists Develop Blood Test That Detects Alzheimer's Years Before Onset:

Alzheimer's is a form of progressive dementia that impacts nearly one in every 10 seniors. Given its pervasiveness and its heartbreaking nature, scientists are working harder than ever to understand the disease—especially when it comes to causes and prevention. A new study out of Washington adds to this research by offering an early detection method and solidifying a potential Alzheimer's trigger.

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Journal Reference:
Dylan Shea, Elizabeth Colasurdo, Alec Smith, et al., SOBA: Development and testing of a soluble oligomer binding assay for detection of amyloidogenic toxic oligomers, PNAS, 119, 2022.

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, @02:53PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, @02:53PM (#1288364)

    Orienteering enthusiasts are at much higher risk of falling off cliffs, being eaten by wolves and dying of skin cancer. You choose your poison.

    • (Score: 2) by cykros on Tuesday January 24, @03:01PM (4 children)

      by cykros (989) on Tuesday January 24, @03:01PM (#1288367)

      Dementia or being eaten by wolves? No contest, where's the steaks I can strap to myself while rolling around in bacon fat?

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Opportunist on Tuesday January 24, @06:14PM (3 children)

        by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday January 24, @06:14PM (#1288391)

        That doesn't exactly answer whether you do this because you want to be eaten by wolves or because you suffer from dementia...

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by vux984 on Tuesday January 24, @06:32PM (2 children)

          by vux984 (5045) on Tuesday January 24, @06:32PM (#1288395)

          Does it really matter though? :)

          • (Score: 3, Touché) by Opportunist on Tuesday January 24, @08:53PM (1 child)

            by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday January 24, @08:53PM (#1288420)

            Only if you want to be eaten by wolves. If you suffer from dementia, you probably don't care.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, @09:06PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, @09:06PM (#1288422)

              Oh but you do care. Dementia is not a state of unknowing bliss, it is the worst nightmare you keep waking up into every moment 24/7.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Wednesday January 25, @05:59AM

      by looorg (578) on Wednesday January 25, @05:59AM (#1288496)

      Really? People that are normally or often out in the woods are not normally the once that fall of the cliffs or get eaten by wolves, not sure about the skin cancer. But these people tend to know the outdoors and the signs. It's the other people that fall of the cliffs etc as they are looking at their phone or trying to take a selfie to share with their friends. It's a similar group of people that tend to believe that oh look a big grey doggy out in the wild and here come him three or four friends that end up as wolf snacks, even tho that is still very uncommon I would say. Just as Bear attacks are always very uncommon and usually something that happens by accident or to idiots that don't know what they are doing.

      But back to maps. While I do find that the digital maps with all their details are great, on some level it's just to much. To much information now that you need to scale off. To many dots that doesn't mean anything, the hidden commercial info -- I didn't ask where all the restaurants are or that this is the office of SuperCorpDeluxe etc but they paid the map provider to be added for some reason. So I tend to just look at maps as needed, I am here -- I need to get here, so go like this and then turn here or there. Done. Then I leave the digital map where it belongs, at home -- on my computer. Also if you are not out in the wild and need a map -- after all I would think these days that most people use these maps in an urban setting you could just ask someone for direction.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by khallow on Tuesday January 24, @03:02PM (1 child)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 24, @03:02PM (#1288368) Journal
    There's more to orienteering than reading maps. At the least, you're moving around and counting paces. Probably reading a magnetic compass too.

    And some subtle aspects like it takes more paces to go uphill and less paces to go downhill than on flat land; or it's often better to approach a target a little bit from one side so that you know the target is to your left or right rather than spending more time because it could be either side and you picked the wrong direction first.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by coolgopher on Wednesday January 25, @01:23AM

      by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 25, @01:23AM (#1288465)

      Not to mention actually plotting sensible paths to your next marker. On a decent course the shortest line on the map is very rarely the most efficient route. Hostile terrain really interferes with accurate pace counting.

  • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Tuesday January 24, @03:42PM (2 children)

    by Nuke (3162) on Tuesday January 24, @03:42PM (#1288372)

    The people I have known with dementia have had physical problems getting from their armchair to the door. So forget orienteering, I'm sure there are other ways of excercising the brain.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, @09:08PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, @09:08PM (#1288424)

      It depends on the stage of dementia and their physical health going in. My mother had it, and in the early stages it was like keeping track of a child. She'd leave the house and I'd follow her about half a block away while she wandered. You have to strike this odd balance between protection and respect. The lack of mobility didn't come until she broke her hip, and not while wandering; but around the house. A lack of coordination + fragile bones is one of the things that accelerates this terrible condition.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, @06:52AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, @06:52AM (#1288501)
      And the people I know with dementia don't have problems getting from their armchair to the door.

      FWIW if you can still keep using smartphone GPS apps over the years through all the various UI and behavior changes ("necessary" and unnecessary/worse) for both the smartphones and the apps themselves, you'd be exercising your brain too.

      Seriously though, walking and running by themselves have been proven to help with delaying aging of the brain. The problem is for many people the ability to walk/run goes down when they age. Their cartilage etc wears out and doesn't grow back fast enough. This often happens before they get dementia.

      So if these unfortunate people still want to practice their navigation skills then maybe playing certain types of video games might help.

      As for the article, outdoor running and biking are for young people who are far from dementia. You'd near inevitably get injured in such activities and if you are older it often takes you a long time to recover if you recover at all.

      There are exceptions of course, but most people won't recover as well from cycling accidents when they're in their 40s and 50s compared to when they were in their 20s. And a fair number just get killed. Do your HIIT, burpees or walks if you want in safer environments then play games for the navigation and brain stuff.

      As people get older, there are many who get knocked down by a vehicle or just slip and fall, spend months in bed/hospital and then die.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 24, @04:07PM (1 child)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 24, @04:07PM (#1288377)

    GPS with voice prompting is considerably easier than reading a map, reading your physical environment, placing yourself "on" the map and deciding what to do next to proceed towards your destination.

    Kind of like a power wheelchair is considerably easier than roller skates.

    If you want to continue to be able to roller skate into your later decades, keep doing it as long and often as you safely can. If, instead, you opt to wheel around in a power chair instead, I can just about guarantee: you will be losing your ability to roller skate sooner than if you kept up the practice.

    Same goes for using your skills of navigation, and just about everything else in life.

    Україна досі не є частиною Росії. Слава Україні 🌻
    • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, @11:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, @11:25PM (#1288451)

      IE: "use it or lose it".

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by SingularityPhoenix on Tuesday January 24, @05:33PM (1 child)

    by SingularityPhoenix (23544) on Tuesday January 24, @05:33PM (#1288389)

    I always knew playing video games would increase my health. I remember the days when you didn't have these fancy waypoints and just had a map. And the map was a paper map that came in the box. Back when video games had boxes.

    I'm sorry I'm not giving up my GPS because some research said it "CAN train the brain and stave off cognitive decline" (emphasis mine). They would use stronger language if they could. When they can say using a map instead of GPS is correlated with a X% reduced chance of getting Alzheimer's at a given age, maybe they'll have something. I mean reading my comment CAN train the brain and stave off cognitive decline (or it can lead to it, idk).

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 24, @06:48PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 24, @06:48PM (#1288400)

      You got a paper map in the box? Half the fun of Zork was figuring out and drawing the map!

      Україна досі не є частиною Росії. Слава Україні 🌻
  • (Score: 2) by fliptop on Tuesday January 24, @06:34PM (2 children)

    by fliptop (1666) on Tuesday January 24, @06:34PM (#1288396) Journal

    My youngest sister (late 20's) has described herself as "directionally challenged." She can't go anywhere w/o her GPS and turn-by-turn directions. When she told me this I remarked I was surprised b/c our Dad was a master at navigating no matter where we were.

    I have never used GPS. A few years ago my youngest daughter and I took a 2200 mile road trip to visit her sister in Montana. I glanced at a map and plotted the route in my head, and used a map of Billings I had printed off Google Maps to find her house once we arrived.

    On our trip home, there was flooding in Missouri, and my daughter used her phone to navigate around it. It was valuable information to have at the time, as I would have driven right into the trouble area not knowing what was going on. However, the route her phone plotted took us about 100 miles off course (we wound up going almost all the way to Chicago), and I kept asking her, "When are we going to start heading South?" By the time we meandered back down to I-70, we were way past the trouble area, but like I said, we had traveled an extra 100 miles. So while her alert about the flooding was useful information, the route we took added almost 2 hours to our trip. I guess you have to take the good w/ the bad?

    To be oneself, and unafraid whether right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformity
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 24, @07:01PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 24, @07:01PM (#1288402)

      There's a section of SR 13 near us which I swear has Google Maps trained to steer people off of it at every opportunity. It's a 2 lane that runs along the river, right in front of all the expensive riverfront homes, and it's the nicest way to get to the next bridge across the river south of us: no lights or stopsigns, 45mph cruise straight through. Granted, the first "detour" is supposed to save 2 minutes (16 vs 18 - easily "in the noise" of traffic light and stop sign performance) and 3 miles (9 vs 12) but it adds a couple of lights, and stop and turns and all in all is just more of a pain to drive. The real kicker for me is when you "miss" the turn for the detour and then Maps tells you later to detour again, this time adding 2 miles and 3 minutes to the trip vs if you just stay the current course.

      Україна досі не є частиною Росії. Слава Україні 🌻
    • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Wednesday January 25, @05:19PM

      by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Wednesday January 25, @05:19PM (#1288557)

      There was a story a few years back about three women who decided to take a day trip from Pahrump, NV to Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park. They got there all right, but on the way back got lost by listening to their GPS. Somehow they ended up running out of gas on an unpaved road two desert valleys over in the opposite direction from Pahrump. They found water in an old cabin, or they probably would have perished, and had to spend two days there until found. There are literally two paved roads they could have taken to get to Scotty's Castle, all they had to do was remember which direction to turn at a stop sign to head the right way home. Apparently they were incapable of that simple feat of navigation on their own. They complained their GPS kept telling them "turn right", and they just got themselves more lost. I'm guessing the GPS doesn't have a feature that simply says "turn around and go the other way". I can't help but think that if they had a road map a simple glance could have kept them on the right path.

  • (Score: 2, Touché) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday January 24, @09:17PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 24, @09:17PM (#1288427) Homepage Journal

    we just forgot where we were going.

    Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, @02:40AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, @02:40AM (#1288472)
    Many older folk seem to have difficulty learning how to use Google Maps/Waze/etc or even doing intermediate smartphone stuff. They might even have difficulty using their smartphone as a flashlight to get around a house in a blackout (or remembering where they left their phone in the first place).

    As for those who haven't got dementia yet, using stuff like Waze lets you get advanced notice of obstacles/animals on the road etc. That way you might have a slightly higher chance of living long enough to get dementia.

    There's a difference between getting dependent on it and using it as an aid.
  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Wednesday January 25, @11:50AM

    by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday January 25, @11:50AM (#1288514)

    They get a whole bunch of people together. Ask "do you think you are good at orienteering". Then look to see how good people are at orienteering and !lo! the ones who think they are good at orienteering are good at orienteering. I'm just sick to death of reading these nonsense biology/psychology/medicine papers. The whole field is a joke.

    > Responses from the second question of this survey were used to group orienteers into the appropriate skill level (i.e., intermediate:
    > “I can navigate well both on and off trails but often have large issues”; advanced: “I can navigate well off trails with few available
    > features and seldom make large mistakes”; elite: “I hardly ever make errors in my navigation and feel confident in many kinds of
    > terrain”

    > The Navigational Strategy Questionnaire (NSQ) was used to evaluate the navigational tendencies of all participants
    > The Survey of Autobiographical Memory (SAM) Questionnaire ... gives a general self-reported measure of episodic, semantic,
    > spatial, and future memory

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, @05:40PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, @05:40PM (#1288562)

    Use GPS, but set it to 2D North Up, so it looks like a map. Then at least you have some idea of where the heck you are going when following it, rather than relying on it as some sort of magic directions machine.