Aging Your Brain

A major study looking at how our brains age was just released.  The Amen Clinics, Google, John Hopkins, UCLA and UCSF collaborated to look at what factors contributed to accelerated aging in humans.  Using SPECT scans they evaluated over 100 brain areas in over 60,000 people and compared individuals with different characteristics to estimate how fast their brains were aging.

First of all, I must say that this collaborative effort lends credibility to the Amen Clinics who work with so many patients with different brain dysfunction.  They use brain scans like SPECT scans and other advanced testing to search for underlying mechanisms of neurologic and psychiatric diseases.  Some in conventional medicine would look down on their approaches, but apparently these major academic centers recognized the Amen Clinics as a real contributor to medical research.  Our physician assistant here at Sanctuary definitely benefited from Dr. Amen’s clinical training courses in caring for our patients.

What did they find?  Schizophrenia stood out at the fastest accelerator of brain aging.  Cannabis use, Bipolar, and ADHD stood out next in line for their effects.  Surprisingly alcohol ranked slower than these factors.

Science Daily, an online source for research news ended their summary with this quote.

Co-investigator Sachit Egan, Google Inc. (Mountain View, CA), said, “This paper represents an important step forward in our understanding of how the brain operates throughout the lifespan. The results indicate that we can predict an individual’s age based on patterns of cerebral blood flow. Additionally, groundwork has been laid to further explore how common psychiatric disorders can influence healthy patterns of cerebral blood flow.”

As we grow our cognitive health program at Sanctuary, we look forward to further discoveries coming out of this collaboration.   We live in exciting times for helping patients live healthier more abundant lives.


Daniel G. Amen, Sachit Egan, Somayeh Meysami, Cyrus A. Raji, Noble George. Patterns of Regional Cerebral Blood Flow as a Function of Age Throughout the Lifespan. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-180598

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