Honors & News
March 10, 2014
A study involving Rochester-area seniors has yielded the first accurate blood test that can predict who is at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. This discovery – which appears today in the journal Nature Medicine – could be the key to unlocking a new generation of treatments that seek to head off the disease before neurological damage becomes irreversible.
The biomarker – which consists of 10 specific lipids found in blood plasma – predicted with greater than 90 percent accuracy which individuals would go on to develop Alzheimer's disease or a precursor condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). The cost of the simple blood test required to detect these lipids is a fraction of other techniques and, unlike alternatives, it identifies risk early in the disease process before cognitive symptoms appears.
The ability to identify individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer's before the clinical manifestation of cognitive impairment has long been a Holy Grail of the neuromedicine community,said Mark Mapstone, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist with the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and lead author of the study.
Current efforts to develop a treatment for this disease are coming up short because they are probably being used too late. Biomarkers that can allow us to intervene early in the course of the disease could be a game-changer.
October 4, 2011
As it turns out, keeping pace in ever-more-electronic world is no small feat for the aging brain. That's because our mental circuitry – the most frequently used neuron pathways, like well-traveled roads – tends to
crystallizeinto a series of expressways over time. But that doesn't mean paving new paths (by, say, learning in middle age) is a lost cause – it just demands special learning techniques and a little more patience.
That's heartening news for adults who are headed back to school, shifting careers in later life, or simply want to be lifelong learners, says neuropsychologist Dr. Mark Mapstone. In the clip below, he sheds more light on our amazing (and aging) brains.
September 27, 2011
Ask any number of men what they think their odds of having a stroke are, and you might find many of them believe stroke is frighteningly unpredictable and can attack like a bolt from the blue – without warning, trailing death and disability in its wake.
That idea is dangerously wrong. The truth is that a stroke is the bullet at the end of a very long barrel and there is a lot you can do to dodge it.
The path to stroke can be started by heart disease – especially if you have an irregular heartbeat. It also can be started by arterial disease – especially if there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries of the neck. The chain of events that begins with cardiovascular disease and ends in stroke can take years, or even decades to evolve. You probably will not know that it is happening.
September 20, 2011
Searching frantically for misplaced car keys. Fumbling for the name of a new acquaintance. Providing an accurate eye-witness testimony. Treasuring past moments with a loved one lost. What, exactly, is this thing we call “memory”? How do our brains manage to process, store and recall so much sensory footage – even lifeless data, like phone numbers – almost reflexively?
Neuropsychologist Dr. Mark Mapstone co-directs URMC's memory care clinic, which features a team of neurologists, psychiatrists, a geriatrician, a neuropsychologist, a psychometrician (expert in measuring psychological function), a social worker and a nurse practitioner. He weighs in on these and other burning questions in the clip below.
July 14, 2011
Google, Facebook, Internet Movie Database, and many other sources of information on the Internet are changing the way in which we remember. As a result of this instant access, growing numbers of us may actually be outsourcing our memories. It's called the
Google effectand it is documented online in the journal Science.
Google is just another form of external memory,says Betsy Sparrow, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Columbia University in New York City. Neuropsychologist Mark Mapstone, Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., isn't sure the Google effect is such a good thing for our memories.
This is not as good for us from a brain perspective,he says.
If you download your information to a device, you are not using your brain to make connections as you should be.That said,
When you don't burden your memory with rote remembering, it does free up activity for more complex thinking,he says.
March 28, 2002
A tiny section of the brain that is ravaged by Alzheimer's disease is more important for our ability to orient ourselves than scientists have long thought, helping to explain why people with the disease become lost so easily. The findings by neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center are reported in the March 29 issue of Science.
Neurologist Charles Duffy, M.D., Ph.D., previously discovered that a small section of brain tissue slightly above and behind the ear - known as the medial superior temporal area (MST) - acts much like a compass, instantly updating your mental image of your body's movements through space. In new research, Duffy and graduate student Michael Froehler show that the MST acts not only as a compass but also as a sort of biological global positioning system, providing a mental map to help us understand exactly where we are in the world and how we got there.
January 31, 2002
Doctors have added to the evidence that patients with Alzheimer's disease lose their way not simply because their memory is failing but because they are subject to a unique form of brain damage that causes symptoms doctors call "motion blindness." Some of the new data comes from driving tests of a small number of patients, where researchers have linked the condition to the loss of one specific driving skill: the ability to stay in one's lane while driving.
While it's obvious that people with Alzheimer's disease are losing their memory, that's only part of the reason why they become lost,says neurologist Charles Duffy, M.D., Ph.D., who leads the research team at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
These patients also lose their ability to perceive their own motion. That's ultimately what puts them at much greater risk than others of becoming lost.
April 18, 1995
The two University of Rochester professors were among 100 scientists and economists selected from a field of 400 nominees. Each Sloan Research Fellowship recipient is awarded $30,000 over a two-year period. Sloan Research Fellows are engaged in pioneering research in physics, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, neuroscience and economics. Once they have been selected, Fellows are free to pursue whatever line of inquiry interests them. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation created the fellowship program in 1955 to encourage research by young scholars at a critical time in their careers.