Tags: Alzheimer's/Dementia | Parkinsons Drug Helps Seniors Make Better Decisions

Parkinson's Drug Reverses Age-Related Mental Declines

Wednesday, 27 Mar 2013 03:10 PM

By Nick Tate

A drug widely used to treat Parkinson's disease has been found to help to reverse age-related mental declines in some older people, improving their ability to make good decisions.
Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging found seniors given L-DOPA (Levodopa) — a drug that increases levels of dopamine in the brains of Parkinson's patients — helped improve their decision-making skills by boosting activity in a region of the brain linked to learning and judgment.
The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also identified changes in the patterns of brain activity of adults in their seventies that help to explain why many seniors have a harder time making sound decisions than younger people.
"We know that dopamine decline is part of the normal aging process so we wanted to see whether it had any effect on reward-based decision making,” said lead researcher Rumana Chowdhury, M.D. “We found that when we treated older people who were particularly bad at making decisions with [L-DOPA] their ability to learn from rewards improved to a level comparable to somebody in their twenties and enabled them to make better decisions."

Special: How One Deck of Cards Has Shown to Improve Memory.
The researchers noted that poorer decision-making is a natural part of the aging process that stems from a decline in the brain’s ability to learn from experiences and predict the likelihood of getting a reward from the choices that we make.
Past research has shown that an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which is involved in that process, is affected by dopamine.
For the study, researchers tracked decision-making processes in 32 healthy seniors and compared them to those of 22 other volunteers in their twenties. Older participants were tested on and off with L-DOPA as they completed a behavioral learning task that mirrors the decisions gamblers make while playing slot machines. Researchers tracked the brains of the partiticipants and assessed their performance before and after drug treatment.
The results showed seniors who performed best in the gambling game before drug treatment had greater "integrity" of the dopamine pathways in their brains. Older adults who performed poorly before drug treatment also did significantly better after taking L-DOPA.
"The older volunteers who were less able to predict the likelihood of a reward from their decisions, and so performed worst in the task, showed a significant improvement following drug treatment," Dr. Chowdhury explained.
John Williams, M.D., head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust, said the findings have broad implications for treating age-related mental declines in seniors.
"This careful investigation into the subtle cognitive changes that take place as we age offers important insights into what may happen at both a functional and anatomical level in older people who have problems with making decisions,” Dr. Williams said. “That the team were able to reverse these changes by manipulating dopamine levels offers the hope of therapeutic approaches that could allow older people to function more effectively in the wider community."

© 2015 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

ED Drugs Protect Liver: Study

Friday, 30 Jan 2015 16:15 PM

Drugs now used to treat ED may protect the liver from damage caused by sepsis, a systemic inflammatory response to infec . . .

Fifth of Seniors Suffer From Muscle Weakness

Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 16:28 PM

A national survey on muscle strength in older Americans finds that nearly a fifth have less strength than is considered  . . .

Many Seniors Have Busy Sex Lives: Study

Thursday, 29 Jan 2015 16:13 PM

They say love transcends time. So does sex, evidently. New research shows many seniors are continuing to enjoy active se . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved