A new study from the US suggests that anxiety symptoms might be the early sign of Alzheimer’s disease years before this mental condition become evident.
A team of scientists examined data received from the Harvard Ageing Brain Study, containing information about 270 healthy men and women aged between 62 and 90. None of them had active mental disorders.
Lead researcher Nancy Donovan, a geriatric psychiatrist from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, explains: “Rather than just looking at depression as a total score, we looked at specific symptoms such as anxiety. When compared to other symptoms of depression such as sadness or loss of interest, anxiety symptoms increased over time in those with higher amyloid beta levels in the brain.”
A team of researchers from the Universities of Bath and Lincoln, United Kingdom, identified new links between genes and brain size. This discovery opens a new direction for research to a better understanding of brain development and mental diseases.
Having compared genomes of 28 mammals with different sizes of neocortex, the brain region involved in higher cognitive processes like language and decision-making, the scientists have identified a number of gene families that can grow and contract through gene duplication and deletion that have expanded in line with the growth of the neocortex relative to the size of the brain.
The scientists hope that their discovery may provide new clues into what goes wrong in a number of mental health diseases, like dementia.