Ask The Experts

Your Questions.
Answers From Our Team Of Scientists, Doctors,
and Business Leaders.

Search for Answers Ask a Question
Derek from UK Asks…
Less than 10% of those who have submitted questions are male. Does this follow the overall make up of the participants?
Experts respond…

Thanks for your question and for taking the time to look closely at our “Ask The Experts” section.  We do have a higher incidence of women visitors to the “Ask The Experts” section of our site.  And more of our brain health tests are completed by women than men (the ratio is 62% test completions by women; 38% by men).  This leads to a broader question, “Is the incidence of dementia higher for women than men?”  Many people believe that the answer is “yes”.  But research gives us a different answer.  A very large dementia study called the Rotterdam Study showed that overall there are no gender differences in the incidence of dementia up to a high age.  After 90 year of age the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is higher for women than for men.  The incidence of vascular dementia, though, is higher for men than for women in all age groups.  Gender isn’t the key here.  But lifestyle choices are important ways to manage our dementia risk.  Healthy choices such as eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are excellent ways to help keep our cognitive health as we grow older. 

 

Michael Meagher
President, Cogniciti

Posted:Jan 01, 2016

Tags:

Nancy from canada Asks…
Mom and her siblings had dementia. Will my sisters,and I also get it?
Experts respond…

Assuming that they had the typical late-onset variant of Alzheimer’s, where onset occurs in one’s late 60’s or in the 70’s, then your risk, and that of your sisters, is higher than it would be for someone with no family history. But, that doesn’t mean that you are definitely going to follow the same path.

Importantly, we now know that a host of healthy lifestyle behaviours help to improve cognitive functioning and lower dementia risk. Indeed, over 50% of Alzheimer’s risk can be attributable to modifiable lifestyle factors. These include aerobic exercise, staying cognitively and socially active, eating a healthy diet that is plant-based and where protein comes mainly from fish and legumes, keeping in good cardiovascular health (weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugars), and getting treatment for anxiety and depression.

Even people who live like saints sometimes get dementia, but if you follow this brain healthy lifestyle, the research tells us that you’ll have a lot better chance of staying in good cognitive health.

Dr. Nicole Anderson, PhD, CPsych
Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institue, Baycrest
 

Posted:Apr 16, 2015

Tags:

James from Canada Asks…
Can MRI's diagnose dementia?
Experts respond…

An MRI of the head can provide a very detailed picture of the structure of the brain. In the case of possible dementia, an MRI can be used to rule out problems like a brain tumor or stroke that could be causing cognitive decline. An MRI may also be able to detect atrophy (or shrinkage) that occurs in specific brain regions in people with dementia, but by itself, an MRI can’t be used to diagnose dementia. Rather, dementia is diagnosed clinically by assessing symptoms, such as the extent and variety of cognitive impairment and the impact of the impairment on the person’s day-to-day functioning.

Dr. Angela Troyer
Psychologist
Baycrest

Posted:Apr 03, 2015

Tags:

Shirley from Canada Asks…
How can I improve on and build my memory?
Experts respond…

Research shows us that the best way to improve brain health and memory is through a healthy lifestyle. This includes things like getting enough physical exercise; eating well and getting adequate sleep. It’s also important to spend time participating in leisure activities that provide cognitive and social engagement. Managing stress is also important, and can be done in a number of formal and informal ways. The Memory Centre on the Cogniciti website has more information and resources to help maintain your brain health.

Dr. Angela Troyer
Psychologist
Baycrest

Posted:Feb 05, 2015

Tags: Memories;Memory

Carl from Canada Asks…
When can test takers get a sub-test score breakdown in our online report?
Experts respond…

Cogniciti’s approach to the development and sharing of the test is firmly based on scientific evidence. Our initial research indicated that the only score we can responsibly report to test users is the overall score. The evidence shows that this is a very reliable score – meaning that if you take the test more than once, you will likely get a similar score. The specific sections of the test are our next research focus. At this time, we have opted to provide the highest quality information rather the maximum amount of information. Thank you for your question, and please check back soon for updates on the report scores!

Dr. Angela Troyer
Psychologist
Baycrest

Posted:Feb 05, 2015

Tags: test;score

Martin from Canada Asks…
How is Cogniciti different than Lumosity?
Experts respond…

We serve a different and important purpose from Lumosity.  Lumosity is focused on brain training and tracking your performance. Cogniciti is aimed at helping adults who are worried about their memory changes decide the right time to have a conversation with their doctor.  After completing the Cogniciti brain health assessment, which takes about 20 minutes, users will receive feedback and a recommendation about whether to talk to their doctor about their memory concerns. If a score is below normal, the test taker will also be provided with a report to take to his or her doctor. All users are directed to the Cogniciti website with the latest information on cognitive aging and age-related brain function that will help adults interested in proactively managing their brain health. A Memory Centre and a Caregiver Centre provide science-based information and tools related to prevention and management of brain health issues. And, of course, this "Ask the Experts" section allows site visitors to get specific information from Cogniciti's panel of scientists, doctors, and other professionals.

Dr. Angela Troyer
Psychologist
Baycrest

Carol from Canada Asks…
At 61, I've noticed a decline in my ability to remember faces and numbers. Sometimes I have trouble concentrating and my mind feels "fuzzy." Are these symptoms of dementia?
Experts respond…

With age, there are a number of cognitive changes that many people notice, and these vary from one person to another. Some of the more common problems are difficulty remembering names and faces, misplacing household items, having problems coming up with words in conversation, forgetting PIN numbers or dates and getting distracted. Given how common these problems are, it is nearly impossible to attribute them to any particular cause – such as normal aging, dementia, stress, or something else – without a thorough medical work up. Generally, if these problems are only happening from time to time and if they are not causing major negative consequences,  then they can likely be chalked up to an aging brain. Cognitive problems that are of more concern include repeating oneself multiple times within a conversation, getting lost in a familiar place, leaving pots on the stove to burn, and forgetting important or meaningful events shortly after they happen. If you are having any of these problems, or if you are starting to have difficulty doing things that you used to do – such as managing your finances or your appointments – then it is time to talk to your doctor about your concerns. 

 

Dr. Angela Troyer
Psychologist
Baycrest

 

Posted:Jul 24, 2014

Tags: memory names faces fuzzy alzheimers

Barbara from Canada Asks…
Why is it that as we get older, memories of earlier life are more vivid than say, yesterday's?
Experts respond…

The answer to this question has several aspects. First, the young brain is simply more efficient, and so registers events in a richer and more vivid way than when we are 60, 70 or 80. But second, memories from 50 years ago are not random events; usually they are striking, emotional happenings – either happy or sad – that are important to us. Third, because of their interest, importance, or pleasurable nature, these memories have probably been thought of and re-told many times – so they are not really from 50 years ago! And finally, they may have been altered substantially because of the many re-tellings. They feel vivid and true but most likely have drifted quite a bit from the original happening.

Dr. Fergus Craik,
Senior Scientist,
Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest.

Posted:Mar 27, 2014

Tags: Memories;Memory

Barbara from Canada Asks…
Are there some known, specific memory loss issues that would point to Alzheimer's rather than 'normal aging'?
Experts respond…

For the most part, and especially in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, it is difficult to tell the difference between memory mistakes that are caused by Alzheimer's and those that are a normal part of aging. That is, both can be associated with problems remembering where you have put things, difficulty recalling recent events that have happened, or forgetting to do something you meant to do. The main differences are that these mistakes happen more often for people with Alzheimer's disease and they tend to have more serious consequences. If you sometimes forget to pay a bill on time and have to pay the occasional late fee, this may be normal. If it happens frequently and your phone service or credit card is cancelled, or if someone starts taking over the household finances, this may be a sign of a more significant memory problem. For more examples of what's normal and what's not, see posting for a blog by Baycrest clinicians and researchers at www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-mild-cognitive-impairment/201301/memory-changes.


Dr. Angela Troyer
Psychologist
Baycrest

Posted:Mar 27, 2014

Tags: memory;loss;alzheimer's;alzheimer;aging

Eva from Canada Asks…
Some memory testing includes asking the patient/client to write down how many words they remember after been given a list of random words in a short span of time. Is this an accurate way of testing memory?
Experts respond…

Remembering a string of random words may seem very different from memory problems in real life, but in fact many studies have shown that people with real memory problems do badly on such tests, so it is one quick way to get least an approximate measure of current memory ability. Two words of caution are first, memory for the last few words in a list (ones you have just heard) tap a different form of short-term memory, and performance here is not very sensitive to age and disease; remembering words from the beginning or middle of the list is more diagnostic. Second, memory for words will be good for people who have good verbal abilities, so we need other tests (involving scenes, sounds, spatial information etc.) to get a full picture of a person’s memory abilities. 

Dr. Fergus Craik
Senior Scientist
Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest

Posted:Mar 27, 2014

Tags: Memories;Memory