Pitt program stimulates seniors with memory issues
article by Gary Rotstein (full version here) and photos by Nate Guidry
Barry Leonard, 81, with longtime concerns about memory lapses, spent part of a recent Monday morning joining other seniors playing the marimba, the mallets in his hands tapping out the notes and measures drummed into his brain by months of repetition.The music was a breeze for Sally Newman, 87, a former professional pianist who got a bigger mental challenge afterward from computer games testing her ability to recall objects flashing on the screen.
Bernie Glesky, 80, joining them in a new three-day-a-week University of Pittsburgh program, appreciated ending the morning with hand weights, leg lifts, stretch bands and other physical exercise, trusting in the theory that “the body is connected to the mind.”
The three octogenarians are among the first 15 participants enrolled in Pitt’s Brain Exercise and Training Wellness Program, or BRiTE, designed to assist people who have mild cognitive impairment. It’s a condition associated with memory problems in older adults, which can be a preliminary sign of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, although not necessarily. The program is based on research and theories suggesting people can be helped at such a stage by well-rounded mental, physical and social stimulation."
BRiTE launches: Pitt Brain Exercise and Training Program Aims to Improve Mind and Body Wellness in Individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment
Individuals with mild cognitive impairment have a new resource in Pittsburgh with the recently established Brain Training and Exercise (BRiTE) mind and body wellness program, developed by a team of clinicians and scientists at the University of Pittsburgh with expertise in cognition and behavior. The program works to stimulate the brain and body of those with known or suspected cognitive impairment with the goal of improving overall health and wellness.
“There already are effective and well-developed programs that provide home care and nursing homes that benefit individuals with more advanced disease, yet there is little available for individuals with very mild cognitive deficits,” said James T. Becker, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, neurology and psychology at Pitt. “The BRiTE program provides these individuals with the opportunity to maintain their active occupational and social lifestyles.”
Read the entire article.
Charleston's The Post and Courier published a fantastic piece about the impetus and process of the decision to scan a musician's brain. Here's a look at what we are able to learn about the activity during music making:
For instance, understanding the rhythm of the brain could shed light on the way humans operate. In Lewandowski’s head, activity ebbed and flowed, not always in conjunction with the musical patterns. The colors bloomed often during quiet musical moments, then subsided as the cellist attacked his instrument with vigor.
And our upcoming research got a nice mention, as well!
Jenny [sic] Dorris, a percussionist and research associate at Carnegie Mellon, is working on a study about music’s effect on the aging brain, Becker noted.
CMU's School of Music was excited to partner with the University of Pittsburgh, cellist Norbert Lewandowski, and Jacobo Mintzer of the Roper St. Francis Clinical Biotechnology Research Institute. This August we began taking images of Lewandowski's brain while he listened to different types of recordings -- both his own playing, the playing of others, and white noise. Coming soon: More on what we found, and a video of the experience.