Minding Memory

Exploring Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and other Types of Dementia

Welcome to Minding Memory. In this podcast we discuss topics related to dementia research. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for dementia research, and we have topics for both those new to the space as well as old pros. We start with some basics, like: What exactly is dementia? What are the different types of dementia? What is the TICS, if not a swarm of blood-sucking insects? But we also invite researchers on to discuss their interesting work to give you a glimpse at the questions, data, and methods moving the field forward.

Minding Memory is co-hosted by Matthew Davis and Donovan Maust. Matt and Donovan are Associate Professors and health services researchers at the University of Michigan. Matt’s PhD is in data science and Donovan is a psychiatrist. The Minding Memory podcast is part of the Center to Accelerate Population Research in Alzheimer’s (CAPRA) at the University of Michigan, supported by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. Additional support also comes from the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. The content of this podcast does not represent the views of the National Institutes of Health or the University of Michigan. Please consider subscribing to this podcast and make sure to check out our website at: https://capra.med.umich.edu/. On our website you’ll also find links to the center’s seminar series and data products created specifically for dementia research.

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October 11, 2021

Introduction to the Minding Memory Podcast

In this episode we introduce ourselves and provide an overview of the Minding Memory Podcast. This podcast is supported by the Center to Accelerate Population Research in Alzheimer’s (CAPRA) at the University of Michigan. Our guest this week is Dr. Julie Bynum. Julie is the director of CAPRA and we talk briefly about what the NIH-funded research center is and how to get involved.

October 25, 2021

What is the Value of Early Detection of Dementia?

In this episode we talk with Dr. Ken Langa about the implications of identification of “preclinical” Alzheimer’s disease (situations where individuals may have biological signs of Alzheimer’s but no symptoms). Ken is a leading dementia researcher and our discussion focuses on an article he published called “Preclinical Alzheimer Disease – Early Diagnosis or Overdiagnosis” that was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. In his article co-authored with Dr. Jim Burke, he brings up some of the potential indirect effects of early detection.

November 8, 2021

Could the FDA’s Approval of a New Drug to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease do More Harm than Good?

Aducanumab is a new drug designed to remove amyloid in the brain. Following an accelerated process, the Food and Drug Administration approved Aducanumab as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease despite (what many experts feel) little evidence of effectiveness. In this episode we discuss the approval of Aducanumab with Dr. Jason Karlawish from the University of Pennsylvania and talk about what it could mean for drug discovery going forward.

November 22, 2021

What are the Implications of the Approval of Aduhelm (Aducanumab) to the US Healthcare System?

In this episode we continue our discussion of the implications of the approval of Aducanumab. Our guest this week is Professor Nicholas Bagley. Prof. Bagley is a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and a contributing writer to the Atlantic. Recently he wrote an article titled “The Drug that Could Break American Health Care” that discusses some of the broader (unintended) consequences of the approval of Aducanumab. In this episode we discuss some of the broader cost implications of the new drug.

December 6, 2021

What are the Different Types of Dementia? A Primer for those of us who aren’t Healthcare Clinicians

Often research studies consider dementia as either present or absent, while others specify particular types of dementia. For example, what exactly is frontotemporal dementia? In this episode, we talk with Dr. Henry (Hank) Paulson, who directs the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center, to introduce listeners to the most common types of dementia and hear about some of their defining features. For those of you without clinical backgrounds, consider this your crash course on the types of dementia.

December 20, 2021

Keep it Down out There: You’re Hurting my Brain

Our guest in this episode is Dr. Sara Adar. She is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in the department of epidemiology. Dr. Adar was the senior author on a study titled “Long-term community noise exposure in relation to dementia, cognition, and cognitive decline in older adults” that was published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. The study used data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project to examine the association between exposure to community noise and cognitive impairment. We talk with her about how exposure to noise affects cognition.

January 3, 2022

Drugs and Dementia: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

While there are some FDA-approved medications for dementia, more individuals living with dementia are actually prescribed psychotropic medications. In this episode, Donovan introduces Matt to the concept of the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, which are just as much part of dementia as the memory loss—and are probably a big reason for all this other prescribing.

January 17, 2022

Donovan Takes the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status

One of the richest data sources available to study cognition and aging is the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). This nationally representative survey includes questions to help assess cognition, but many researchers may use this data without actually knowing the questions behind the variables—don’t be That Guy! (or Gal!) Listen to Dr. Lindsay Ryan, an HRS team member, coach Matt as he administers the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) to Donovan, who is surprisingly good at recalling types of birds.

January 31, 2022

Caregiving for Individuals Living with Dementia

Individuals living with dementia require care that is often delivered by family and friends. This episode is devoted to discussing some of the unique aspects of dementia caregiving. Our guest today is Dr. Amanda Leggett. Dr. Leggett is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry here at the University of Michigan. Her research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is focused on issues related to dementia caregiving. She has interviewed over a hundred patients with dementia and their caregivers.

February 14, 2022

What is it Like to be a Caregiver for a Person Living with Dementia?

In our last episode we talked about caregivers for individuals living with dementia. In this second part of our series on caregivers we’ll get to know someone with lived experience. We’re joined in this episode by Peggy Arden whose husband has Alzheimer’s disease. Peggy has graciously agreed to offer us a behind the scenes look at the ups and downs of being a dementia caregiver.

February 28, 2022

The Study Most Often Cited in the First Sentence of Dementia Research Papers

If you’re new to dementia research, you’ll soon come to find that most research papers on dementia start off something like this: “In the United States there are 5.8 million individuals living with dementia and this is expected to increase to 13 million by 2015. . . .” In this episode we discuss the study on dementia prevalence that has been cited thousands of times with one of the authors. Dr. Jennifer Weuve from Boston University joins us today. We also talk more broadly about what makes a research paper highly citable in general.