More than 50 UW-Madison researchers presented work at the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Chicago, Illinois, this week. The event is the world’s largest gathering dedicated to the scientific study of dementia.

Key highlights from University of Wisconsin researchers include:

  • Patients who have symptoms of depression and apathy in mid- and late-life are at an increased risk for developing dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment, a condition that affects memory and thinking skills, according to work done by Dr. Mary Wyman, a clinical psychologist with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. These findings will help doctors talk to their patients about brain health and reducing risk for Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, placing increased importance on prevention and minimizing risk factors.
  • Mild sleep-disordered breathing can result in decreased oxygen levels in the brain and shrinkage in the hippocampus (a part of the brain associated with both long-term and short-term memory), according to research done by Chase Taylor, research specialist with the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, but this work shows that less severe sleep disturbances in middle-aged adults may also affect brain health. Taylor’s research contributes to a body of science showing a link between poor sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, which may provide another reason for doctors to assess sleep disorders in their patients.

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