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April 22, 1992

Brain Researchers Bullish on Prospects for Preserving Mental Functioning in Elderly

JAMA. 1992;267(16):2154-2158. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480160012003

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OPTIMISM is growing among some brain researchers that ways of slowing or preventing loss of cognitive function associated with aging and with neurodegenerative diseases soon may be within reach.

Recent research on the mechanisms of neurodegeneration has suggested a variety of possible treatments, some of which are already being tested in phase 1 trials, and has provided a rationale for creating and testing new pharmaceutical agents.

What's more, say some researchers, the recent findings suggest that, for some people, cognitive functioning may be preserved or even enhanced without resorting to drugs.

Simple measures, such as maintaining adequate blood glucose levels, taking vitamin E, and keeping mentally active, these researchers suggest, may help prevent loss of mental functioning and may even help delay or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Bright Future?  "Overall, there's a lot of good news coming," says Carl W. Cotman, PhD,