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400 failed Alzheimer’s drugs

15 Jan

An article in The Washington Post examines why it is so hard to find an effective drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease:

These setbacks pile on to an already depressing situation: more than 400 failed clinical trials since the last Alzheimer’s drug — which only treats the symptoms of the disease, temporarily — was approved more than a decade ago.

(…)

Alzheimer’s is a formidable foe for a number of reasons. The brain isn’t easy to access, and much about how it works remains mysterious, even as scientific knowledge has moved forward. Doctors can’t take easy, repeat biopsies to see whether a drug is working.

Trials are long and expensive. It has become increasingly clear that it is necessary to treat patients early in the disease, and then wait to see if the disease is prevented or slowed.

Patients, though they are affected in heartbreaking ways, typically are unable to act as advocates for more funding or research when they are in the throes of the disease — unlike cancer or AIDS patients.

Does extra virgin olive oil prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

12 Jan

Sound too good to be true? It probably is. Here is a post on the topic by Joy Victory:

To deconstruct how this went off the rails, let’s start with the university news release sent to journalists: “Temple study: Extra-virgin olive oil preserves memory & protects brain against Alzheimer’s.”

That’s a headline that surely got journalists’ attention. It’s not until after two very long opening paragraphs extolling the virtues of the nearly magical powers of extra virgin olive oil that we find out who, exactly this was tested on.

Mice.

Andrew Gelman gives his take:

I looked briefly at the published research article and am concerned about forking paths, type M errors, and type S errors. Put briefly, I doubt such strong results would show up in a replication of this study.

Psychology podcast on children’s imaginary friends

10 Jan

An InExact Science is a podcast sponsored by the Association for Psychological Science. I just listened to this episode about children’s imaginary friends and I highly recommend it.

How good are you at estimating the passage of time?

5 Jan

I found this pretty interesting. Some researchers have suggested that the ability to count inhales and exhales might be a good measure of mindfulness.

[Hap tip to BoingBoing]

Is Alzheimer’s caused by brain atherosclerosis?

3 Jan

Please  understand that this explanation if one of a number of competing hypotheses. Dr. Greger makes his case here:

Another year of meditation!

1 Jan

So today I have completed another 365 days of meditation. My Insight Time app says I have completed 733 consecutive days of meditation and a total of 1,794 days with at least one session. The number of consecutive days would have been greater, but I fell out of sync when I traveled to India two years ago and crossed the International Date Line.

Over the year my practice has shifted towards non-directive meditation.

Happy New Year!

Nelson Enterprises

29 Dec

I am the proud owner of a large collection of magic books. Perhaps, my most prized book is a copy of a Nelson Enterprises catalog from the 1960s.

Nelson Enterprises was a magic store located in downtown Columbus that specialized in mentalism, magic that mimics psychic phenomenon. Just reading the catalog will make you skeptical about paranormal claims.

For sometime, I had thought about scanning my copy and putting it online, but now I find the public library in Columbus has beat me to it. Read and be amazed!

You can read about Robert Nelson here.

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