5. Research news in brief Summer 2017
No link with Marmite
Although a number of headlines proposed that Marmite could help prevent dementia, researchers didn’t propose a link. Eating Marmite was found to affect brain activity when young people were given a visual task. The story arose because a chemical messenger called GABA was implicated, and GABA is also altered in dementia. However, it’s not reasonable to draw any conclusions about dementia from this study.
Benefits of exercise
Aerobic and resistance exercise can improve thinking skills, according to a study that reviewed previous research on trials of supervised exercise programmes. Taking up moderate or vigorous exercise improved people’s performance on tests of thinking skills, but the study didn’t look at whether this reduced their likelihood of developing dementia.
Toxic clumps of a protein called amyloid are key hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is unclear precisely how amyloid affects brain cells. New research in mice has discovered that amyloid clumps can ‘switch on’ a protein called Ephexin5 that is normally switched off, and that this could contribute towards the loss of important connections between brain cells.