Psych in the news: Exercise and Alzheimer’s
In the article published by Time magazine, it was described how exercise may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease. Although the article does not state a specific research question, a reader may assume that they’d be questioning if regular exercise may offer some protection against Alzheimer’s disease. The study involved 93 high risk adults with an average age of 64, all of whom had at least one parent with Alzheimer’s disease, at least one gene variation linked to Alzheimer’s disease, or both. Although, the participants they studied showed no sign of cognitive impairment at the time. In order to test the relationship between brain activity and exercise levels, they had the participants wear an accelerometer for a week to measure their daily physical activity and received PET scans to measure glucose metabolism. Doing so reveals neuron health and activity, in several regions of the brain of which tend to have depressed glucose metabolism for people with Alzheimer’s disease. They found that people who spent at least 68 minutes engaging in physical activity at a moderate level had a better glucose metabolism than those who spent less time doing so. The study concluded that being sedentary or doing less physical activity was not associated with changes in any of the regions of the brain that were studied. Links were found between better glucose metabolism and vigorous activity, but only in the hippocampus but not in other brain regions. In general, the point the article is trying to establish is that a moderate-intensity active lifestyle boosts neuronal function, light activity is insufficient, and vigorous activity might be unnecessary.
The scientific article posted on the US National Library of Medicine’s site, explains, in depth, how moderate physical activity is associated with cerebral glucose metabolism in adult’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease. For this article, there also was not a research question, rather, an objective. The objective was to further investigate the relationship between accelerometer-measured physical activity and glucose metabolism in asymptomatic late-middle-aged adults. This study is an expansion of previous studies with the addition of the new invention of the accelerometer. This research included 93 cognitively healthy adults from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention whom had family history of Alzheimer’s disease and had at least one or more gene linked to the disease. The participants wore a triaxial accelerometer during waking hours for one week. The accelerometer data collected data of how much time each participant was engaged in particular levels of intensity. To processes the data, participants underwent 3D FDG-PET imaging. After the study was completed, a positive association between moderate physical activity and glucose metabolism in all the brain regions studied. Low physical activity was not associated with any of the brain regions, and vigorous physical activity was only associated with the hippocampus. The research concludes that with all the evidence that physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness may promote neuroprotective processes and therefore may be a potential non-pharmacological option for Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
Comparing the general news article and the scientific article, the biggest difference was in the amount of detail included. The news gave a brief description of the research and the findings, while the scientific article went into extreme depths of the entire background, materials and methods, processes, statistical analytics, results including graphs, charts, and individual specifics, discussion on findings, as well as limitations on the study. Another difference was the way in which the text read. News articles by publications such as Time, are made for a more general viewer, therefore it has to be readable by a broader audience. Rather than, the highly knowledgeable community of researchers and scientists who are more likely to read the scientific article and are familiar with complex literature. However, despite it being more difficult to read, more information was gathered from the scientific article making the concept more understood and validated. Although, the scientific article was more specific and detailed, the research, process, results, and conclusions were generally the same. Both articles let it be known that the research is about the connection between Alzheimer’s and physical activity, they talk about the 93 adults studied, how 63 minutes of physical activity has a positive effect on glucose metabolism, and that moderate physical activity was the most effective.