It’s an unfortunate fact of life — as we age, we tend to become more forgetful.
Aging brains struggle especially with working memory. Called the workbench of the mind, working memory allows us to store useful bits of information for a few seconds and use that information across different brain areas to help solve problems, plan or make decisions.
Researchers are trying to understand why this ability fades as we age and whether we can slow, or reverse, that decline.
One leading hypothesis contends that working memory works by far-flung brain areas firing synchronously. When two areas are on the same brain wavelength, communication is tight, and working memory functions seamlessly.
Parkinson’s disease patients treated with low-frequency deep brain stimulation show significant improvements in swallowing dysfunction and freezing of gait over typical high-frequency treatment. The study, published in Neurology on Jan 27, provides a new route for treating Parkinson’s patients with these difficult-to-treat and sometimes life-threatening symptoms.
“This is the first study to successfully treat swallowing dysfunction, and one of the first to treat difficulty with gait, using this unusual low-frequency 60Hz stimulation,” said study author Tao Xie, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Chicago. “These conditions are usually difficult to manage by typical deep brain stimulation or medications. Our findings have a significant and direct clinical impact on improving quality of care and potentially reducing the morbidity and mortality in Parkinson’s disease.”
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has become a well-recognized non-pharmacologic treatment that improves motor symptoms of patients with early and advanced Parkinson’s disease. Evidence now indicates that DBS can decrease the number and severity of non motor symptoms of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) as well, according to a review published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.
“Non motor features are common in PD patients, occur across all disease stages, and while well described, are still under-recognized when considering their huge impact on patients’ quality of life,” says Lisa Klingelhoefer, MD, a fellow at the National Parkinson Foundation International Centre of Excellence, Department of Neurology, King’s College Hospital and King’s College, London.