Lab Notes

  1. Parkinson’s and memory
    Parkinson’s disease is known as a movement disorder that leads to tremors and muscle rigidity, but cognitive problems also are associated with it. Using a combination of neuropsychological testing and brain imaging, UF researchers discovered that in a group of recently diagnosed patients, one quarter have significant memory problems that would be noticeable to other people, said lead author Jared Tanner, Ph.D., an assistant research professor in the department of clinical and health psychology. Catherine Price, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Health Professions’ department of clinical and health psychology said it’s important to recognize which people have these issues with memory to see if they would benefit from certain pharmaceutical or behavioral interventions. The study is part of a larger research project supported by a $2.1 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health.  — Jill Pease
  2. Brain benefits from exercise?
    Studies often show that older adults find cognitive benefit from exercise, but a new study by UF Health researchers and their colleagues has found that frail older adults gain no benefit from moderate physical activity. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers drew their data from the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders study. It divided more than 1,600 participants between the ages of 70 to 89 into two groups: exercising and receiving health education. Neither the participants in the exercise group nor the education group had improvements in their cognitive function. Marco Pahor, M.D., UF’s Institute on Aging director, co-author of the current study and principal investigator of the LIFE study, said previous studies have shown older adults gain cognitive benefits from exercising, but this benefit may result from a higher level of activity than the LIFE participants had. One subgroup in the study did see a small benefit: those who were the frailest.   — Morgan Sherburne 
  3. Colleges attract hookah bars
    Larger and private colleges and universities seem to attract hookah cafes and lounges, but smoke-free policies decrease these odds, according to findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Waterpipe smoking, also known as hookah, has a healthier reputation, increasing its popularity among college students. Recent evidence refutes the claims that hookah is less harmful than cigarettes. Ramzi Salloum, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of health outcomes and policy in the College of Medicine who led the study, said it is crucial to document hookah establishments near campuses and note the impact smoke-free policies can have. Among the 1,454 colleges and universities with residential student populations greater than 250, 38 percent had at least one hookah establishment within 3 miles, and 50 percent had at least one within 9 miles. Private and public institutions with smoke-free campus policies were almost half as likely to have a hookah establishment within 3 miles. — Elizabeth Hillaker Downs