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Withered brain cells restored (in monkeys, anyway)

Hemos posted about 15 years ago | from the i-can-only-get-smarter dept.

Science 207

lisa writes "You've heard the old theory that we lose 10,000 neurons a day after the age of 20. Well, that may not be true. Scientists revived and restored aged brain cells thought to be dead in a group of old monkeys. " Interesting-very succesful tests-we'll see how the human trials go.

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...you must have a lot of shrunken brain cells[nt] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681646)

Re:Alzheimers is a disease (1)

RenaissanceMan (82899) | about 15 years ago | (#1681647)

Does anyone happen to know if there was ever any research done which points towards an atrophy in brain cells caused by Alzheimers as opposed to it simply destroying brain cells?

Re:... (2)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 15 years ago | (#1681648)

Perhaps even more fitting for the "Genetic engineering boosts mouse intelligence" story [slashdot.org] , given that "Algernon" in Flowers for Algernon was the mouse on which they'd done the initial intelligence-boosting experiments, before trying them on the narrator of Flowers for Algernon.

Alzheimers is brain's equivalent of "disk full" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681665)

I recall one theory that predicts that if humans lived long enough we ALL would get Alzheimers by age 120 or so. As versitile as the brain is, there must be some physical limit to the amount of data it can store. And since you can't exactly go back and cut and rewire dendrites and fibers once they've grown into place, (i.e., the brain has no delete command), the brain just can't function anymore and "crashes". With no more room in the skull to grow new brain matter, offloading new data to some sort of artificial storage medium seems to be the only option down the road.

BTE I think sleep is when the brain shuts down cognative function so that it can go through the sensory "data" collected through the day and stored in short term memory and sort the important stuff into long term memory and dump the crap. Since short term memory is limited in capacity (maybe even rewritable), when it starts to get full we get sleepy. This sorting process is also time consuming hence we sleep 33% of the time.

Im feeling good today (0)

VinceJH (14059) | about 15 years ago | (#1681666)

I have used my last moderation point to help you out. Know my name as the one who helped you when some tard woudn't. And moderate me up when you get points.

Re:I don't want this just when I get really old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681667)

I want something now that would restore me to the level of intellectual and learning ability I had when I was 25. At the time I didn't put it to good use, but now (mhmm hmm years later) I think I could really use some extra brain cycles, plus I would have the wisdom to utilize them in a somewhat more constructive manner.

This leads to the question: How old are you now? 26? Just wanted to know...

my idea about the brane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681668)

smoke lots-of wead i smoke lots off wead an like it? i will make yor brane be smart and stuff it works for me smoke wead

More thoughts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681669)

A study on men's brains showed that men in their 40's are at their mental peak, in terms of overall effectiveness. They don't have the mental flexibility of 20 year olds, but their extreme experience compensates.

Just imagine what it would be like if we had a society of people whose average wisdom was that of a 40 year old, but whose average mental flexibility was that of a 20 year old. The biggest problem we face is that people only have wisdom and intelligence in a fairly short window - 30 to 50 years old. Everyone else is either naive or mentally crippled. Uncrippling the older folks' brains would supercharge our society.

Out of curiosity ... (3)

fable2112 (46114) | about 15 years ago | (#1681670)

Given that we supposedly only use some rather low percentage of our brain capacity overall as it is, how exactly is this going to be helpful for most people? I can see, as some others have posted, why it might help in restoring brain cells that have suffered some sort of traumatic damage (like the guy who took the fencing foil up the nose and is now a classic neurology case study). But why restore cells that died a "natural" death, especially if they are some of the large percentage of cells that we don't use?

Re:Tired of hearing about vaportech! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681671)

A lot of the 'vaportech' just wasn't commercially sustainable. How about videophones? They've been "the future" since about 1960, but they have yet to achieve widespread acceptance.

Whereas I think this particular innovation will be very commercially viable. There's a lot of old folks with the money to pay for this kind of treatment, and you can bet they'd love to pay.

Just hope it'll be in time to save my father - he was a great mathematician when I was a child but he's clearly just a shadow of his former self. I want my father back.

Re:Alzheimers is brain's equivalent of "disk full" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681672)

wow...i find that stuff fascinating. but i think i remember reading in my psych class that the actual act of sleep isnt really necessary; that you can get the same amount of 'rejuvination' just by resting while awake for the same amount of time.

i think it was speculated that the need for sleep was more psycological or something...like maybe it was spawned more off of a need to dream...rats, wish i still had my notes...

oh well, truth is i *love* sleep!

--Siva

Brain cells? meta discussions vs. meta moderation. (1)

dermond (33903) | about 15 years ago | (#1681673)

the person who moderated this down is probably only running how the metamoderation would react to this.. so is xENTROPYy a cmdrtaco in disguise? and by the way: i think what is really offtopic are those meta discussions about how something is moderated good or bad. i wish people would not comment on such things. after all this is why there is meta moderation. meta discusions are offtopic. and of course this as being a meta meta discussion is especially offtopic. but since i do not have enough moderator points to modertate all the people down how whine about how something is moderated bad or good i thought i just jump in the discussion and give my $0.02

Brain cells? We don't need no stinkin' brain cells (0)

xENTROPYx (66709) | about 15 years ago | (#1681676)

Woo-hoo! You know what this means! PASS THE BREW!!! Hmmm.. Now if we could only revive liver cells...

Alzheimers is a disease (1)

LewsKinslayer (87724) | about 15 years ago | (#1681678)

Alzheimers is a disease caused by Prions, according to my Bio teacher, who studied it for Amgen. Therefore, how could gene therapy have an effect on the condition?

... (4)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1681680)

Dr. Strauss sayz I should rite down evrything that happens too me from now on....

--

Re:... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681681)

... And before you moderators go and -1 my post, I'd like to point out that that is from a classic short story you may have read in high school, which I thought was fitting for this topic.

short story? (1)

crayz (1056) | about 15 years ago | (#1681685)

There is a short story, but the novel is better(the short story basically just cuts out 90% of the book).

Nevermind... (0)

xENTROPYx (66709) | about 15 years ago | (#1681687)

That's too bad.. This technique only 'revives' brain cells that were never really dead in the first place..and booze just kills 'em outright. C'est la vie.

Re:... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681688)

Flashback...

is this Algernon?

Nearly there... (3)

rde (17364) | about 15 years ago | (#1681689)

It's been coming for a while now; I reckon we're abut ten years away from a practical application.
For more on regeneration, check this [inter.net] out.

now the real trick... (1)

jktuna (79908) | about 15 years ago | (#1681691)

Is to revive brain cells that think they themselves are dead. Boy, wouldn't that be a surprise! One minute you're in heaven, the next you're on someone's countertop! I can't help but think of poor Erwin (of Userfriendly) in this context, somehow...

How are the neural grafting ideas coming along? Anyone trying for cyborg tamagochis soon?

Re:... (1)

mo (2873) | about 15 years ago | (#1681692)

Ah... Flowers For Algernon.

First a short story, then a novel, then a TV movie if I remember correctly.

If you get a chance, I _HIGHLY_ recommend the short story. The novel shows a little too much that it was written to cash in on the short story.

We use almost all of our brain cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681693)

That bit of urban folklore is misleading. We only use a small percentage of our brain cells at ANY GIVEN TIME. If we used them all at once, the brain would overheat. That doesn't mean we don't use them all... we just don't use them all at once.

In a similar fashion, you only use about 12% of your muscles even when you're exerting yourself. If you used 100% of your muscles all the time, you'd burn out pretty quick. Every once in a while a human goes through a stressful situation (usually a mother saving her child) and uses all 100% of his/her strength - that's when you hear stories about little ladies lifting cars, tearing doors off their hinges, etc.

The future of humanity (2)

Dirtside (91468) | about 15 years ago | (#1681694)

In fifty years, we will have immortality.

This article, and all the others in recent [months|years], are indicating a definite trend toward the day when we can arbitrarily and indefinitely prolong the life of the human brain. Couple this with cloning research and the eventual evolution of nanotechnology (specifically, tiny little machines that we can use to repair damage in a fraction of the time that our body can naturally), and within fifty, maybe sixty years, science will have achieved the ability to make a person effectively immortal -- even if they are already advanced in years. Painless restructuring of an elderly body into a younger, stronger form, and eternal neurons, will allow any human (short of violent trauma or nuclear explosions) to live for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years (if you're lucky). Sign me up. :)

Re:Out of curiosity ... (2)

z4ce (67861) | about 15 years ago | (#1681695)

In popular science a while back they had a article on how much of the brain we actually use. It is a misconception that we only use a small partition of our brain. It is true that we don't use it ALL at once. If did use it all at once we would probaly be completely defunked, not smart. We use all of our brain at different times, for different functions. At least, according to the doctor that responded to the question in Popular science, which I concider a pretty good source.

Re:Nearly there... (1)

Wah (30840) | about 15 years ago | (#1681696)

don't forget to mention the whole "creating life" story.

Almost certainly increased life spans for rich people.

Did anybody calculate ratios on what kind of "savings" you could expect? We need to start calculating the theoretical limit of a funcional brain. I can certainly see totally brainless human shells made to house a recently reinvigorated brain, making the term "lifetime guarantee" rather useless.


Re:But I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681697)

Brain cells are not optional, they're simply not allowed. DUH!

Re:Neural connections and data store (2)

G-Man (79561) | about 15 years ago | (#1681698)

Gotta disagree with you there. The brain -- the Mother of All Neural Networks -- can store many overlapping patterns and still be able to recall them distinctly. A memory is not stored in a specific place, but instead distributed throughout a web of connections. A single brain cell may be involved with the recollection of many memories.

The ease of recall is determined by the strength of the dendritic connections between the brain cells that make up the pattern -- how strongly the pattern is "burned in". This is the point of rehearsals and rereading important items. With more patterns overlapping, you may be more likely to make connections between seemingly disparate topics, but you should still be able to distinguish them. If two *weak* patterns overlap (items that haven't been recalled in awhile) it might be possible to confuse them.

If the volume of data were primary factor, wouldn't teenagers have better recall than twenty-five year olds? I think we'd all agree that a 25-year old remembers just as well or better than a 16-year old. So why does mental performance decline over time? Well, aren't the late 20's when you are no longer forced to learn new things?

Without anyone forcing you to learn new things, you're on your own. If you keep learning, mental performance should actually improve until serious brain cell degradation sets in -- I guess this is what these researchers are trying to reverse. On the other hand, if you learn nothing new the patterns start to atrophy.

Anyway, that's my $.02, any neuroscientists care to weigh in?

FINALLY!!!! (0)

cthonious (5222) | about 15 years ago | (#1681699)

Maybe they can cure conservatism, a disease statitically linked with aging and losing brain cells.

Re:Alzheimers is brain's equivalent of "disk full" (1)

MDX-F1 (87940) | about 15 years ago | (#1681710)

I recall one theory that predicts that if humans lived long enough we ALL would get Alzheimers by age 120 or so. As versitile as the brain is, there must be some physical limit to the amount of data it can store. And since you can't exactly go back and cut and rewire dendrites and fibers once they've grown into place, (i.e., the brain has no delete command), the brain just can't function anymore and "crashes".

Then wouldn't we see much higher Alzheimer's rates among the more educated? Wouldn't you expect to see scientists (and other intellectual types) getting Alzheimer's much more often, due to the fact that there is more information stored in their brains? I'm not sure if studies have been done, but I doubt Alzheimer's rates go up drastically with education levels.

Of course, if it really is a "disk full" situation, then the best strategy to avoid losing your mind would be to never gain it! ;-)

Re:Tired of hearing about vaportech! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681711)

To keep your finger on the pulse of near-term medical advances, check out CenterWatch [centerwatch.com] , a site that tracks current clinical trials of new medical therapies.

The Black Market(tm) (1)

Wah (30840) | about 15 years ago | (#1681712)

is always there and will always be there.

Professional athletes have anabolic steroids, it just took longer to figure out the brain. To bad we let drug tests for employment become commonplace, now they'll know if you had to cheat to be that smart.

Re:Other types of brain damage (1)

cthonious (5222) | about 15 years ago | (#1681713)

No! I want the brain of a 50 year old and the body of a 20 year old!

or perhaps (2)

Wah (30840) | about 15 years ago | (#1681714)

when they think of an absolutely amazing idea and their head explodes. I hate it when that happens.

Society where everyone's smart = moderate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681715)

I think that as the ratio of your experience (wisdom) to your raw intelligence (functioning brain cells) increases, you judge things differently. While a huge boost of raw intelligence would probably eliminate the crackpot right-wingers, there would still be a huge pool of people with lots of practical experience with real world situations and excellent insights into human nature. The tone of a such a society would be moderate conservative/progressive, or pragmatist - the experienced people would know Where It's At, would be open to new ideas, and would have the intelligence to run the society well.

Clutching my nose in horror. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681716)

kinda like the punctured eyeball reflex.

Re:Alzheimers is brain's equivalent of "disk full" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681717)

Alzheimers is brain's equivalent of "disk full"
This is not the case. Autopsy shows very real physical damage to the brain done by altzheimer. Large 'holes' form, filled with a nasty protein plaque. Afaik it is not clear wether the plaques are a cause or a symptom of the disease.
If you want to explain it in computer terms you might compare it to randomly chiseling away transistors on the CPU and memory chips, and punching little holes in the HD's.
If this neural growth factor leads to an effective treatment, it comes too late for my grandparents :-(

Re:dundant (1)

Listerine (7695) | about 15 years ago | (#1681728)

Now there is some redundancy. You just said what everyone else is saying.

videophonz - UI probs, not tech probs (1)

onjay (27282) | about 15 years ago | (#1681729)

Their non-acceptance is well studied, and generally thought to be a function of user preference. We don't want to have to "get our muff fluffy" every damn time the phone rings, apparently.

onjay
definitively unfluffy

I think sleep IS necessary (1)

Listerine (7695) | about 15 years ago | (#1681730)

If I do minimal physical activity all day long, I still need sleep. It just gives your head a rest.

Re:Third Term for Ronald Reagan !!! Yea Baby! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681731)

I can see the comercial now. Fade in to the back of Ronnie head with a syringe sticking out of the top. Zoom out to a sky shot above the Bel Air home.

Simply: No. (1)

Listerine (7695) | about 15 years ago | (#1681732)

Just as many memorable moments happen to those who are educated as to those who are not. Your brain wouldn't fill up quicker just because you can recite poems or other useless junk. Your brain remembers what is wants, not what you want.

Your brain wouldn't fill up if you went to school for 16 years. You probably have trouble remembering 95% of the school experience. Sure you can remember what was taught, but other people still have experiences while you are in school that they would remember.


Re:More thoughts (1)

Muggins the Mad (27719) | about 15 years ago | (#1681733)

> A study on men's brains showed that men in
> their 40's are at their mental peak, in terms
> of overall effectiveness. They don't have the
> mental flexibility of 20 year olds, but their
> extreme experience compensates.

I would wonder if there's an inverse relationship
in there somewhere. Perhaps "experience" actually
replaces, or disables free thought.

Experience seems to be a "this is the way it's done" thing, rather than mental flexibility, which
would be a "We could do it this way, or this, or
this".

Can we have both in high quantities together?

Atrophy of brain cells... (2)

TheDullBlade (28998) | about 15 years ago | (#1681734)

Use it or lose it.

Atrophy is generally linked to lack of use, and I've heard many times (and seen a few supporting examples) that your mind stays sharp as long as you keep using it, especially for learning. I've also heard that the brain contains stem cells, and can actually grow new neurons if it needs them.

Makes your wonder...

Shoot me if I'm stupid but... (1)

Listerine (7695) | about 15 years ago | (#1681735)

What book are you talking about?

Re:The future of humanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681736)

Since the fountain of youth is unbelievable, we have nanotechnology. I think nature will have much to say against humans living longer.

Re:Other types of brain damage (1)

parc (25467) | about 15 years ago | (#1681737)

This doesn't regenerate cells, it only revives atrophied cells. If you've had actual physical damage to the grey matter, it's not going to help.

Interestingly, though, there has been work in nerve cell regeration, and I believe it's actually been going places in the last few years. See comments previously for a link, I believe.

Re:Alzheimers is a disease (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681738)

By rejuvinating the braincells that survive, some function may be restored?

Re:... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681739)

Slashdot elitism at it's finest. This message is the epitome( score: 5 ) of the messages on slashdot?!?! I've written a hundred or so messages on slashdot, occassionally having one moderated up and down like a yo-yo( funny, offtopic, funny, offtopic or insightful, offtopic, insightful... ), never having anything stay at >1 regardless of how much knowledge I contributed. This has amounted to a karma of -2 for me and thus closing me out of the loop of being able to say what is or isn't good moderation. Maybe it's because I'm not "in the club." This sort of "in-club promotionalism" is exactly why I've grown distasteful of the attitude on /.( no offense to Rob and the gang ) and is why this shall me my last visit.

Re:The future of humanity (1)

Dirtside (91468) | about 15 years ago | (#1681740)

Like what? It's all well and good to make scary pronouncements about how humans should not dare tamper with mother nature, but you never hear any really good reasons why not...

Re:Alzheimers is a disease (1)

fornix (30268) | about 15 years ago | (#1681741)

The cause of Altzheimer's disease remains elusive. There are a few epidemiological, molecular, and histopathological correlates known, but it has not been shown to be one of the prion diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jacob, Kuru, Fatal Familial Insomnia, "Mad Cow" disease, etc.

As for gene therapy being useless for a prion disease, it shouldn't necessarily be dismissed summarily. After all, genes can manufacture proteins that can bind to other proteins (prions) and potentially activate/inactivate them, etc.

Beer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681742)

Practice survival of the fittest. Kill the week neurons with beer.

Playing God vs. curing disease (1)

tetlowgm (4161) | about 15 years ago | (#1681743)

Applying this to Alzheimer's patients is a good restriction because otherwise it becomes difficult to discern between playing god and correcting something that has happened to a person due to a dibilitating disease.

Basically, one's "correction" and one's "improvement". I'm all in favor of fixing things that are broken. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Remember, we were all meant to forget for a reason. The mind is selective so that we can make decisions. Too many options is just as paralyzing (if not more) than no options at all.

Gordon

Memorize other things too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681744)

At least get so you can memorize 16 digit credit card numbers over people's shoulders. Don't forget the expiration date!

Re:More thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681758)

Clearly the answer is yes, to some degree anyway. An 18-year-old programmer with 1 year experience is much better at programming than the 17-year-old version of himself, yet has he gotten more stupid? I don't think so.

Intelligence is a mixture of raw reasoning power and experience, IMO. There does need to be a balance of sorts - I hate talking to naive-but-brilliant 18 year olds, and "wise" old crackpots are a burden on our society.

Re:Neural connections and data store (1)

PhiRatE (39645) | about 15 years ago | (#1681759)

As a rebuttle to certain points (Not necessarily because I believe it is so, but just because I don't believe it is):

1. As I noted previously, a hash table has a certain volume up to which collisions are so minimal that there is no performance impact, therefore it may well be that the brain, a product of an evolution during the majority of which a lifespan of 40 years was impressive, has developed a bucket/hash equivalent where it starts getting bad performance from inserts/retrievals around 25/30.

2. As you noted, reinforcement has a great deal to do with it as well, people at 25 have more cross-references to use to support a memory than 16 year olds, plus the fact that 16 year olds are usually swimming in hormones which may well affect certain varieties of memory.

This is not to say that I don't totally agree with you on your picture of the brain, however I see no reason from your arguments that the comparison with a hash table in a simplistic fashion is not valid.

Furthermore, the point I was trying to make in the end is this: I don't believe reviving a bunch of previously dead braincells would achieve anything towards increasing mental performance. The functions and structures of the brain by the time this is relevant are already in place, and the sudden addition of a bunch of braincells would, IMHO, be like malloc()'ing 200kb more space for your hash bucket points, a waste of time at best, since the hash algorithm never goes there anyway.

In a system as complex as the brain, it is quite possible that such a revival would have seriously adverse effects as the new braincells struggle the adjust to the weightings of the network around it, often firing spontaneously where previously there was no fire at all, and in large numbers, this could do extremely weird, if not entirely bad, things.

In the single case of the treatment of certain brain diseases, I believe it may be effective, because entire sections of the brain may die out, and having anything here is better than nothing, but for the case of mental capability, I suspect the technology is of little use.

Re:Alzheimers is brain's equivalent of "disk full" (2)

fornix (30268) | about 15 years ago | (#1681760)

I'm not sure if studies have been done, but I doubt Alzheimer's rates go up drastically with education levels.

The data are not great, but the relevant studies actually suggest a higher incidence of Altzheimer's in poorly educated people.

Far-ranging implications (4)

WombatControl (74685) | about 15 years ago | (#1681761)

Ah... I can just see it now. Imagine, if we can someone revive or reactivate dead brain cells, what kind of world would we have?

- Farrah Fawcett would finally get that Nobel Prize for her work on superstring theory that clearly shows the interrelations between the weak force and this year's hemlines.

- AOL becomes the Internet center for reasonable discussion and carefully crafted thought.

- Oprah's latest book club selection: "The Meditations Of Marcus Aurelius".

- Network executives realize their impact on civilization, build an advanced spacecraft, and then hurl themselves into the sun. "Crusade" is renewed for four and half more seasons.

- Cheech & Chong for President!

Let's hope they actually get this work in humans. I recommend that they begin testing immediately. They could begin testing on lawyers - no one will bother to stop them, although one never knows if the data collected from them will be applicable to humans... :)

No lawyers were harmed in this post. I'll try harder next time.

Re:Alzheimers is brain's equivalent of "disk full" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681762)

Look up some of the research by Dr. Jerry Yin, at Cold Spring Harbor Lab (www.cshl.org). I interned there (but not with any neuro people) this summer and might work with Dr. Yin or some of his associates next summer. He studied sleep cycles and long-term memory formation in both mice and fruit flies and found evidence that the brain re-inforces long-term memory pathways during the sleep cycle! Some real fascinating stuff, I hope to get into neuro/cog sci myself.

Respectfully,

Kevin Christie

kwchri@maila.wm.edu

Re:my idea about the brane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681763)

I'd say this person could definately benefit from
some brain therapy. Is it possible (He/She) could get it before (His/Her) next post to /. ;)

Re:Alzheimers is a disease (3)

fornix (30268) | about 15 years ago | (#1681764)

Does anyone happen to know if there was ever any research done which points towards an atrophy in brain cells caused by Alzheimers as opposed to it simply destroying brain cells?

Yes. The brain, as a whole, atrophies because of the loss of cells. The brain cells, on the other hand, do not atrophy, but rather become derranged (e.g. neurofibrillary tangles and plaques) and/or die. Under the microscope, Altzheimer's disease looks much different than simple nonspecific loss of brain cells. The neurons are dying in a very peculiar way.

I wish I had a life. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681766)

Then I wouldn't need to Slashdot. (it's a verb now)

Re:Alzheimers is brain's equivalent of "disk full" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681768)

I doubt Alzheimer's rates go up drastically with education levels.
It's the other way around, although this might be because the better educated manage to hide it longer. Patients and their spouses tend to do their best to hide the symptoms. It is not just denial, but also misplaced shame. The acceptance of the fact that you (or your spouse) are now dying very slowly and disgracefully is apparently something you try to put off as long as possible.
Before my grandfather suddenly died, we all knew my grandmother had been getting rather forgetful lately, but we were shocked and ashamed when we realised we had not noticed how bad it really was... They had somehow managed to hide the fact that she had become as helpless and frightened as a very small child...
Also better educated people may have lead healthier (wealthier?) lives. I'm not sure if this influences Altzheimer at all, but it does influence other forms of senile dementia.

Bottom line -- Kill yr browser (2)

onjay (27282) | about 15 years ago | (#1681771)

Soma thoughts:

1) Smart pills: People are generally non-compliant medicationwise...I see people every day who have (or had) the means to deliver themselves from imminent morbidity/death, but do not. I hesitate to use the term "choose" because they really have the best intentions but their actions belie some lack of will or something. I posit that mere neuronal fluffiness is not motivation enough for anyone to do anything about. It reminds me of the ironic* mope of the Life Extension crowd in the late 80's, "I forgot to take my Hydergine."

2) You can forestall the detriment and up your charm points just by cross training your brain NOW so you have a higher baseline functionality. Remember the awesome global mental shift that occurred when you learned to play chess? Where is the challenge and growth now? Go out there and schmooze and dance and paint and juggle and use that other lobe. At least get so you can memorize 16 digit credit card numbers over people's shoulders.

onjay
(not one of those pi-memorizing MENSA types)

*True irony, not like "rain on your wedding day."

Export this procedure to Germany, Quick! (2)

kuro5hin (8501) | about 15 years ago | (#1681778)

(See Previous Article) :-)

----
We all take pink lemonade for granted.

Re:Alzheimers cause is unknown (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 15 years ago | (#1681779)

There are many speculative causes and treatments.

Redundant?! (0)

xENTROPYx (66709) | about 15 years ago | (#1681780)

What the hell?!! Would somebody explain to me how the first post could possibly be redundant?! >in my best Inigo Montoya impression I don't think that word means what you think it means...

Re:... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681781)

You read that in high school? Cool; I had to put up with Silas Fucking Marner. Didn't even get to study 1984 (even though I was in school that year).

Re:Alzheimers is a disease (1)

eldamitri (19790) | about 15 years ago | (#1681782)

The cause of Alzheimers is currently not fully known. Spin off research from the human genome project at Washington University has shown there is a genetic component to Alzheimers. Even if prions are partially respoonsible, gene therapy may yet be aplicable. Some diseases caused by viruses can be affected by gene therapy. Prions are just a protein form/version of viruses.
"there once was a big guy named lou

Re:... (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1681784)

'Flowers for Algeron' to be exact, although I may have messed up the spelling.

--

I don't want this just when I get really old (3)

Jack William Bell (84469) | about 15 years ago | (#1681787)

I want something now that would restore me to the level of intellectual and learning ability I had when I was 25. At the time I didn't put it to good use, but now (mhmm hmm years later) I think I could really use some extra brain cycles, plus I would have the wisdom to utilize them in a somewhat more constructive manner.

Seriously, I am wondering why they want to restrict this to alzheimers patients. There is no doubt that our intellectual capacity lessens over time and that we peak in our early twenties. It doesn't mean we get stupid, but we certainly do take a little longer to make connections between things or learn something new. To be able to gain both the wisdom of age and the mental vigor of youth would be truly wonderful!

And besides the above, how far are we from being able to pump up cerebral functioning to new levels? The gene therapy mentioned in the article merely revives new cells. Is there something that could add more? Or that could make the ones we have more effective? Dang it, I wanna be a genius instead of merely bright...

Jack

Re:INCONCIEVABLE! (1)

Spydr (90990) | about 15 years ago | (#1681788)

... it is that you can't finger out why that is redundant...

Reading the article tells us that... (1)

Mawbid (3993) | about 15 years ago | (#1681791)

Skin cells were taken from each of the monkeys. Into these cells, the researchers inserted a gene that makes human nerve growth factor, an essential chemical found in the brain. The modified cells were then injected into the forebrain of four of the monkeys. Four others, acting as controls, got injections of skin cells without the NGF gene. Once in the brain, the modified cells began making NGF.
--

Deep Thoughts (4)

Eric Seppanen (79060) | about 15 years ago | (#1681793)

Excellent.

There's hope for me yet.

But do "revived" brain cells help you do useful things? Or, perhaps, are those simply "idiot" cells that the more advanced brain cells have killed out of mercy? It sure would be disappointing to go get my "brain cell revival" treatment, and find out that those were the brain cells that thought BASIC was cool.

Or maybe those are "evil" cells that want me to kill and devour my roommates?

Deep Thoughts by Hand Jackey (2)

Wah (30840) | about 15 years ago | (#1681798)

They say those that have full memory of every event in their live are often driven insane by the experience. Me? I thought it was kind of funny.


wead....? (1)

The Queen (56621) | about 15 years ago | (#1681799)

www.burntheherb.com [burntheherb.com]
The Divine Creatrix in a Mortal Shell that stays Crunchy in Milk

Scientology alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681800)

Improving IQ in an adult is a myth. The only way to do it is to buy a gun and systematically weed out eveyone who has a higher IQ than you. Scientology preys on those people who are smart enough to make some cash that can be taken from them, but not confident enough about their intelligence to resist these vultures.

Re:Nearly there... (1)

shogun (657) | about 15 years ago | (#1681801)

Uh rich people? The only socioeconomic group being affected by this research so far is monkeys that live in laboratories. And I'm sure they would just love to live longer under their conditions wouldn't they?

people don't want to fix their brains (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681802)

Most of 'em, anyway. For the average schmoe, and even the above-average schmoe, the brain is that useless appendage one uses to drive home from work. Offer this to the general public and you'll get confusion. "Why do I need to restore my brain? It works fine right now!" (You just keep telling yourself that, lady.)

Re:Just a thought... (1)

shogun (657) | about 15 years ago | (#1681803)

Is it just me who is getting sick of these?
Slashdot really needs a filter that refuses to post a message about Beowulf Clusters under an article that has _nothing_ to do with them.

Re:The future of humanity (3)

Bald Wookie (18771) | about 15 years ago | (#1681804)

In fifty years, we will have immortality.


Hmmmm, I'm thinking that maybe I should become a divorce attorney...

Gee your honor, I know, the whole till death do us part thing. I just didnt figure it would take a thousand years. Plus there is this hot little 90 year old at work your honor. I just want to prove I still got it, you know. I havent had a date in 300 years...

BW

Re:... (1)

orabidoo (9806) | about 15 years ago | (#1681807)

I haven't read the story, but I foudn that the novel on its own works pretty well.

Re:I don't want this just when I get really old (1)

Skim123 (3322) | about 15 years ago | (#1681809)

I want something now that would restore me to the level of intellectual and learning ability I had when I was 25. At the time I didn't put it to good use, but now (mhmm hmm years later) I think I could really use some extra brain cycles, plus I would have the wisdom to utilize them in a somewhat more constructive manner.
This leads to the question: How old are you now? 26? Just wanted to know...

I wouldn't doubt it! I am just 21, and I can tell that I am less sharp than I was a year to two ago. :(

Already hit my decline. I read someone once that the vast majority of revolutionary scientific discoveries were made by folks under age 25.

"Flowers for Algernon" (1)

Chemical Serenity (1324) | about 15 years ago | (#1681811)

IIRC.

--
rickf@transpect.SPAM-B-GONE.net (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

Re:Redundant?! (2)

reflector (62643) | about 15 years ago | (#1681817)

That's easy. You said what you were going to say anyways, so that's redundant. If you had said something other than what you were going to say, it wouldn't have been redundant. Now do you understand?

Re:..."killing" brain cells (2)

troubleinc (90985) | about 15 years ago | (#1681818)

Drinking doesn't kill brain cells, it merely prunes them. One of my hobbies during college was Brain Cell Topiary, in which the object was to rearrange my neurons into decorative shapes. It is comforting to know that I can hope to escape any detrimental effects of my hobby thanks to modern monkey research.

Re:I don't want this just when I get really old (1)

Spydr (90990) | about 15 years ago | (#1681819)

you wanna be able to learn more stuff? it's already here today...It's called READ A BOOK (or /. will do if you have forotten how in this 'technology age')

Re:Nearly there... (4)

plunge (27239) | about 15 years ago | (#1681820)

Okay- let's put a few of the stories over the past few weeks together. We have this story, on brain regeneration and reinvigoration. We have the story you just pointed out- spinal cord regeneration. And we have successful head transplants on monkeys- the central drawback of which is that the spine is still severed. Guess what all this equals? Almost certainly increased life spans for rich people. Within 10 years, we're going to be dealing with moral questions that we never even dreamed of before. Scary and wonderful stuff....

Re:I don't want this just when I get really old (1)

PhuCknuT (1703) | about 15 years ago | (#1681821)

Did they say they wanted to restrict it? I only skimmed through the article, but it seems that they are just using alzheimers patients are the first target for trials, not the only ones.

Other types of brain damage (1)

BradyB (52090) | about 15 years ago | (#1681822)

I'm wondering if this could also help people that have suffered some sort of brain damage due to accidents or something like that. This could be a real break through in areas such as that and well also a great step for the sufferers of Alzheimer's disease. So someday we may be able to say I'm 90 but I've got the brain of a 20 year old!

Tired of hearing about vaportech! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681823)

I for one am tired of hearing about all this great new tech/medical advances/vapor science etc. that "will someday" be available to cure/help/benefit us all. Where's all the future tech from times past that is just becoming available NOW?

Re:Deep Thoughts (2)

Muggins the Mad (27719) | about 15 years ago | (#1681824)

That's kinda something I was wondering.

Do they get restored in a "blank" state, ready
to be reprogrammed (by the brain), or are would
they just make people's minds even more confusing - I'm sure that if parts of my brain suddenly gained an extra 10% of "blank", things'd seem
hellishly spacey for a while.

Of course, it could just be the mental equivalent of getting an old HD repaired.

Re:I don't want this just when I get really old (1)

Sloth503 (46658) | about 15 years ago | (#1681825)

Sign me up. I've been waiting for this to happen.

-Sloth503.

Neural connections and data store (2)

PhiRatE (39645) | about 15 years ago | (#1681826)

I had always been of the belief that the reason learning ability and linking slows down as one ages is not due to the loss of brain cells as such, but more the fact that you've already got a lot of information stored in there and it takes longer to make leaps and jumps around in it.

For a programming analogy take your average hash table, the first bunch of inserts and recalls are 1 step, because the bucket at the hash point is empty, so its the first reply you get, but as you fill up a hash table, you begin to get collisions, so you have to do step-searches through the buckets, or jump to overflow lists etc, slowing everything down. The hash is more useful because it contains more data, but to get any data out of it takes a longer time, and to insert new data in also takes a longer time.

Admittedly the brain is of a considerably different structure to that of your average hash table, but it seems an appropriate analogy to me.

If you think humour is redundant (0)

florin (2243) | about 15 years ago | (#1681847)

The post was only redundant for those who feel there is no place for humour. Who cares if some of them are obviously mainly meant as 'first post' replacement when the one liner is funny. Okay this was not a particularly good post but IMHO a waste of moderation points unless you're a misanthrope looking to make a statement.

Third Term for Ronald Reagan !!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681848)

Tan, rested and brain treated. Reagan 2000 !!!

Defrag your brain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681849)

That ought to speed access/retreival.

Re:Restrictions (1)

Jack William Bell (84469) | about 15 years ago | (#1681850)

I read a different article about this during my lunch today. In that article they stated that the gene therapy was only intended for alzheimers patients. Of course none of this precludes using it for other purposes in the future, but at the speed new therapies are generally approved I will probably be in the current target group myself before I will get access to the therapy.

Jack

Re:I don't want this just when I get really old (0)

AeiwiMaster (20560) | about 15 years ago | (#1681851)

There is something you can do to restore learning ability.

Check out the book "The Einstein Factor" for IQ improving techniques.


If you do drink alcohol stop!
Your brain will then regenerate to
its original state after 7-8 year.

Hope this help.

PS.) Being a vegetarian also helped me
to a lighter mental state.

Exactly what is needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1681852)

Especially in this age, where brainpower is much more important than muscle power. And old folks have the money to spend on this stuff, too. Such a medical treatment, made widely available, could transform our society overnight.
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