The Stanford Center for Memory Disorders News

What really happens to our memory as we age?

A Q&A with Sharon Sha, MD, MS on dementia, healthy aging and memory loss — and how we can protect our brains in later life

The clocks in your body

PODCAST: Join Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD and Nicholas Weiler to learn about new research on how your biological age can be quite different from your chronological age, and why understanding the reason people age at different rates has become a hot topic for researchers who study aging.

Redefining Parkinson's Disease

PODCAST: Join Kathleen Poston, MD, MS and Nicholas Weiler to learn about exciting advances in our ability to detect the brain pathology driving Parkinson's disease and related disorders much earlier, even before symptoms arise, and how this is opening doors for early intervention and — hopefully — prevention.

Stanford Medicine-led study finds way to predict which of our organs will fail first

A new study led by Stanford Medicine scientists demonstrates a simple way of studying organ aging by analyzing distinct proteins, or sets of them, in blood, enabling the prediction of individuals’ risk for diseases.

Lincoln man pushing for prevention of Alzheimer's disease

Don Kewman didn't just fear what could be in his future, he took steps to change it when tests showed he was at-risk for developing dementia.

Stanford Medicine-led study finds genetic factor fends off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

A massive study of medical and genetic data shows that people with a particular version of a gene involved in immune response had a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Depression: Early warning sign or risk factor for dementia?

Which comes first: Depression or dementia? A team of scientists led by Victor Henderson, MD found that the risk of dementia more than doubles for people previously diagnosed with depression.

Scientists find genetic Alzheimer’s risk factor tied to African ancestry

A genetic risk factor found virtually exclusively among people of at least partial African ancestry substantially boosts the risk of incurring Alzheimer’s disease — but only sometimes.

Life in Motion  

In this podcst, hosted by Sam Kleckly, Dr. Sharon Sha discusses the importance of brain health and things we can all do to help prevent or slow neurodegenerative diseases.

How far would you go to live better, for longer?

Join Chris Hemsworth and our very own Sharon Sha, MD, MS, in exploring the boundaries of human potential in #LimitlessWithChrisHemsworth, a Disney+ Original series from National Geographic, streaming November 16 on Disney+.

Can we rejuvenate aging brains?

What can we all be doing in the here and now to keep our brains in shape? Stanford Medicine neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, discusses his findings in the field of cognitive rejuvenation.

Ask Me Anything: Brain health and cognition

Q&A with Sharon Sha MD, MS: Dr. Sha weighs in on how the brain controls our movements, behavior, thoughts and memories -- and how that changes when things go awry.

A rare mutation protects against Alzheimer's disease, Stanford-led research finds

Researchers, led by Michael Greicius, MD, MPH have discovered that a rare mutation inherited with the APOE4 gene variant protects against Alzheimer's, shedding new light on ways to counteract high-risk genes for the disease.

Blood from marathoner mice boosts brain function in their couch-potato counterparts

Deep sequencing of sncRNAs reveals hallmarks and regulatory modules of the transcriptome during Parkinson’s disease progression

A study led by Andreas Keller, visiting faculty at Stanford, along with Kathleen Poston and Tony Wyss-Coray, reports the longitudinal profiling of circulating small noncoding RNAs in the blood of patients with Parkinson's and identifies several microRNAs as potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers.

Young Blood/Old Brains

What if you could extend your healthy life by 10 or 20 years – with a blood transfusion? Research by Stanford professor Tony Wyss-Coray shows a potential to treat Alzheimer’s and prevent age-related cognitive decline. He’s discovered that proteins found in the blood of young mice can dramatically reverse the effects of aging when transfused into older mice. Doing the same thing in humans could increase our quality of life as we age, and our life expectancy as well. We’re years away from seeing any clinical applications of this research, which gives us time to ask about its implications. Who will have access to this treatment? Who are the donors providing young blood? We could add years to our lives – but is that what we really want?

Neurologist: The brain is complicated, largely unknown

In the latest 1:2:1 podcast hosted by Paul Costello, senior communications strategist and advisor, Sharon Sha, clinical associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences, discusses ways to improve brain health and counteract genetic factors for memory loss.

Longevity Gene May Protect against a Notorious Alzheimer’s Risk Gene

Stanford Medicine researchers have found that a common variant in one gene reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease in those at high genetic risk from a second gene.

Gene variant staves off Alzheimer’s in some people

Stanford Medicine researchers have found a gene variant that protects carriers of another gene variant, ApoE4, from developing Alzheimer’s disease — the first demonstration of that beneficial effect.

Boosting brain health

Most of us experience temporary lapses of memory, like misplacing our keys or forgetting where we parked. While such absentmindedness is a widely experienced phenomenon and is considered a normal part of aging, in some cases memory loss and other cognitive deficits can be early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Is there anything we can do to boost brain health and prevent cognitive decline? To learn more, we spoke with Sharon J. Sha, MD, medical director of the Stanford Neuroscience Clinical Trials Group, clinical core co-leader of the Stanford Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and clinical associate professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University.

Bay Area Researchers Key on Blood Plasma to Fight Age-Related Diseases

A Bay Area biotech company is working on FDA-approved therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. Sharon Sha MD, MS, clinical associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences, and Martin Angst, MD, professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine, describe the goal of Stanford studies using plasma to treat age-related diseases in this segment.

Aging Research: Blood Proteins Show Your Age

Protein levels in people’s blood can predict their age, a Stanford study has found. The study also found that aging isn’t a smoothly continuous processSenior author Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences and co-director of the Stanford Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, is quoted in this piece.

Think fast: 5 things you can do to improve your memory right now

With rates of Alzheimer’s disease on the rise, there are simple things you can do to improve your memory. Sharon Sha, MD, MS, clinical associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences and clinical core co-leader of the Stanford Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), provides tips on how to boost your brain power in this piece.

Stanford scientists reliably predict people’s age by measuring proteins in blood

Protein levels in people’s blood can predict their age, a Stanford study, lead by Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, the D. H. Chen Professor II and co-director of the Stanford Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, has found. The study also found that aging isn’t a smoothly continuous process.

She was destined to get early Alzheimer’s, but didn’t. Did a rare mutation protect her?

A woman with a genetic mutation thought to inevitably cause Alzheimer’s disease in people’s 50s escaped that fate, living into her 70s before she developed mild dementia — and researchers think they know why.

Think You’re at Risk of Dementia? Here’s What You Should Know

The effects of dementia vary and the disease doesn’t have a single cause, but there are a number of factors that could increase an individual’s risk of developing dementia. Learn more about risk factors and prevention.

Vascular Dementia Treatment: How Lifestyle Changes Are Key to Prevention

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia but it can be difficult to diagnose. Dr. Marion Buckwalter, associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery, discusses possible causes and how to reduce the risk of getting dementia.

Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force

Sharon Sha, MD, clinical associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences, was appointed as a member of the Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force for the State of California by Governor Gavin Newsom and Task Force Chair Maria Shriver. The purpose of task force is to present recommendations to the Governor on how local communities, private organizations, businesses, government and families can prevent and prepare for the rise in the number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease and all its consequences. The work and recommendations of the Task Force will be in parallel and incorporated in the Governor’s Master Plan for Aging.

Paper alert: VCAM1 opens the door to brain aging

Impeding VCAM1, a protein that tethers circulating immune cells to blood vessel walls, enabled old mice to perform as well on memory and learning tests as young mice, a Stanford study found.

Thwarting A Protein Reverses Brain Decline in Aged Mice

Impeding VCAM1, a protein that tethers circulating immune cells to blood vessel walls, enabled old mice to perform as well on memory and learning tests as young mice, a Stanford study found. Senior author Tony Wyss-Coray, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, co-director of the Stanford Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, is quoted in this piece.

Blocking protein curbs memory loss in old mice

Impeding VCAM1, a protein that tethers circulating immune cells to blood vessel walls, enabled old mice to perform as well on memory and learning tests as young mice, a Stanford study found. 

Stanford team develops brain-rejuvenating antibodies that let old mice think like youngsters

In a stunning piece of research, Stanford neuroscientists have hunted down a single gene that encodes a protein responsible for age-related cognitive losses, targeted it with special blocking antibodies, and shown in mice that these antibodies can rejuvenate old brains to work as well as young ones.

Blocking protein’s activity restores cognition in old mice

Brain cells called microglia serve as the brain’s garbage crew, scarfing up bits of cellular debris. But their underperformance in aging brains contributes to neurodegeneration. Now, a possible workaround?

Do Nootropics Actually Work?

The resurgent popularity of nootropics—an umbrella term for supplements that purport to boost creativity, memory, and cognitive ability—has more than a little to do with the recent Silicon Valley-induced obsession with disrupting literally everything, up to and including our own brains. But most of the appeal of smart drugs lies in the simplicity of their age-old premise: Take the right pill and you can become a better, smarter, as-yet-unrealized version of yourself—a person that you know exists, if only the less capable you could get out of your own way. But do they work?  Sharon Sha MD, MS, Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology & Neurological Sciences at Stanford, provides comment.

Stanford announces new Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) Research Center of Excellence

In December 2017 researchers from across the country joined in the first-ever comprehensive network of research centers to conduct LBD clinical trials, provide community outreach, and expand professional continuing medical education. Representing 24 of medicine’s most prestigious academic medical research centers, these Research Centers of Excellence will help to streamline and standardize LBD science while connecting patients and families with the latest opportunities to participate in LBD clinical trials. 

Clearing clumps of protein in aging neural stem cells boosts their activity

Young, resting neural stem cells have large protein clumps often associated with neurodegeneration. As stem cells age, the aggregates inhibit their ability to make new neurons, Stanford researchers say.

Blood, the Secret Sauce? Focus on Plasma Promises AD Treatment

In mice, infusing young blood rejuvenates the old, and even staves off some of the changes linked to Alzheimer’s. It’s too early to say if the same is true in people, but first results look encouraging. At the 2017 Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease meeting, held November 1–4 in Boston, Sharon Sha of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, presented results of a small Phase 1 trial in which patients with mild to moderate AD received infusions of plasma donated by young men.

Scientists aim to wipe out dementia and other diseases of aging

Scientist are developing therapies that can slow, reverse or prevent dementia and other diseases by targeting their greatest risk factor – aging itself. (article may require SF Chronicle Subscription)

Clinical trial finds blood-plasma infusions for Alzheimer’s safe, promising

In a small safety trial based on preclinical work by a Stanford researcher, participants receiving blood plasma infusions from young donors showed some evidence of improvement.

Aging Research: Plasma Protein Revitalizes the Brain

For centuries, people have yearned for an elixir capable of restoring youth to their aging bodies and minds. It sounds like pure fantasy, but, in recent years, researchers have shown that the blood of young mice can exert a regenerative effect when transfused into older animals. Now, one of the NIH-funded teams that brought us those exciting findings has taken an early step toward extending them to humans.

Study shows protein in human umbilical cord blood rejuvenates old mice’s impaired learning, memory

A single protein contained in human cord plasma boosted old mice’s brain function and cognitive performance, new research from Stanford shows.

Hack your brain to remember almost anything

According to a study published today, anyone can train their brain using the same tricks as the world's top competitors, reshaping their brain's networks in the process.

Memorization tool bulks up brain's internal connections, scientists say

Stanford researchers have found that teaching ordinary people a technique used by memory athletes boosted their memory abilities and made lasting changes in the organization of their brains.

Stanford Brain Rejuvenation Project

We have assembled a highly collaborative and multi-disciplinary team focused on harnessing a powerful new approach to discover, characterize, and utilize brain rejuvenation factors harbored in the blood to improve human health and to combat neurodegenerative diseases. Our team consists of a mix of junior and senior investigators from the schools of Medicine and Humanities and Sciences. Our team brings together a neurologist, geneticists, a chemist, stem cell biologists and neuroscientists all with distinct and complementary expertise and technologies.

Pilot study suggests therapy horses may aid people with dementia and their caregivers

The research team, led by Dolores Gallagher Thompson, PhD, and Nusha Askari, PhD, and Jacqueline Hartman at the Stanford Red Barn Leadership Program, found that supervised activities, such as observing herd behavior, grooming horses and leading horses with a lead and halter, helped participants recognize and use non-verbal forms of communication.

When It's Not Alzheimer's: The Differential Diagnosis of Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration

The article is part of an ongoing series exploring the multiple differential diagnoses of Alzheimer's disease. Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is estimated to cause up to 10% of dementia cases, and is often mistaken for Alzheimer’s. Dr. Sharon Sha, clinical assistant professor of neurology and neurological sciences, is interviewed about the differences.

Creative Minds: A New Chemistry for Aging Research?

NIH director Francis Collins profiles Tony Wyss-Coray, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, who is studying the collection of proteins known as the communicome to track the aging process in mice.

Alzheimer's from a New Angle

The February 22, 2016 issue of Time Magazine covers the efforts of Dr. Longo and his team to develop a novel approach for Alzheimer’s therapy.

Stanford neurologist ponders her interest in the human brain

As part of the team at the Stanford Center for Memory Disorders, Sha is dedicated to studying ways to fight memory disorders and cognitive decline. “I think it’s fascinating to help people understand why” the brain isn’t functioning in the right way, she shares.

5 Questions: Frank Longo on Alzheimer's, new neuroscience center

In a recent interview, neurologist Frank Longo discussed Alzheimer’s disease, recent research breakthroughs and the new Stanford Neuroscience Health Center, which he co-leads.

Scientists reverse the cognitive effects of aging in mice

A cure for aging? A scientist behind a breakthrough technique seems to have found a way to reverse cognitive ageing effects on mice. Next, is to find out if it will work on humans.

Can we reverse the ageing process by putting young blood into older people?

A series of experiments has produced incredible results by giving young blood to old mice. Now the findings are being tested on humans. Ian Sample meets the scientists whose research could transform our lives.

Alzheimer’s Disease: What Stands Between Us and a Cure?

Our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease is better than ever before. So why are we still so far from a cure?

What should we know about Alzheimer's disease?

In this Q&A, Michael Greicius discusses the causes, onset, progression and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Greicius is an associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences and medical director of the Stanford Center for Memory Disorders.

Rejuvenating Old Brains with Young Blood | Tony Wyss-Coray | World Economic Forum

Might young blood be the fountain of youth? asks Tony Wyss-Coray from Stanford University. The Professor of Neurology says blood transports messages between different organs, and young blood may be able to boost health, recharge the old brain and halt cognitive decline.

Stanford to open Alzheimer's research center

A new Stanford ADRC will receive nearly $7.3 million in funding over a five-year period to conduct interdisciplinary research on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Victor Henderson, professor of health research and policy and of neurology and neurological sciences, will direct the center; Tony Wyss-Coray, professor of neurology and neurological sciences, will serve as co-director; Frank Longo, the George E. and Lucy Becker Professor and professor and chair of neurology and neurological sciences and Jerome Yesavage, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will serve as associate directors; and Michael Greicius, associate professor of neurology, will lead the center's imaging core.

Stanford-based Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center to be launched

A new Stanford-based center will receive nearly $7.3 million in funding over a five-year period to conduct interdisciplinary research on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.  

Scientists find genetic underpinnings of functional brain networks seen in imaging studies

Imaging studies have delineated brain networks consisting of discrete brain regions acting in synchrony. This view of the brain’s functional architecture has now been confirmed by a study showing coordination at the genetic level as well. 

Talking about "mouseheimers," and a call for new neuroscience technologies

Michael Greicius, MD, MPH, professor of neurology & neurological sciences at Stanford, researches Alzheimer’s and has a bone to pick with media hype about Alzheimer’s research conducted in mice. What the mice have shouldn’t be considered the same condition, he says, so he’s termed it “mouseheimer’s.” 

Fighting to remember: U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, experts host panel on Alzheimer’s disease

A panel of experts discussed Alzheimer's disease and its effects on women Monday in San Mateo. The panel included Michael Greicius, associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences and medical director of the Stanford Center for Memory Disorders, who is quoted here. 

The gene variant ApoE4 puts women at higher risk of Alzheimer's disease

The number of women with Alzheimer's far exceeds that of men with the condition. Researchers at Stanford University found that carrying a copy of a gene variant called ApoE4 puts women at a substantially higher risk for Alzheimer's disease than men. 

Are Women at Greater Risk for Alzheimer’s?

Neurologists Roberta Diaz Brinton and Michael Greicius discuss why it’s important to study women with Alzheimer’s as a distinct population, and why females might be more likely to develop the disease. 

Brain scientists speak at Davos economic forum

Members of research teams created through the Stanford Neurosciences Institute's Big Ideas in Neuroscience initiative spoke Jan. 23 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

Ageing research: Blood to blood

By splicing animals together, scientists have shown that young blood rejuvenates old tissues. Now, they are testing whether it works for humans.

Blocking receptor in brain’s immune cells counters Alzheimer’s in mice, study finds

Brain cells called microglia chew up toxic substances and cell debris, calm inflammation and make nerve-cell-nurturing substances. New research shows that keeping them on the job may prevent neurodegeneration. 

Can Alzheimer's damage to the brain be repaired?

Longo and his colleagues have pioneered the development of small-molecule drugs that might be able to restore nerve cells frayed by conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

Infusion of young blood recharges brains of old mice, study finds

Something in the blood of young mice has the ability to restore mental capabilities in old mice, which could spell a new paradigm for recharging aging brains. 

Gene variant puts women at higher risk of Alzheimer’s than it does men, study finds

Carrying a copy of a gene variant called ApoE4 confers a substantially greater risk for Alzheimer's disease on women than it does on men, researchers have found.