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Lifebrain Christmas Newsletter 2020

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Lifebrain Christmas Newsletter 2020

2020 has been a challenging year. Despite the demanding pandemic, Lifebrain has been able to continue its activities. You will find below a summary of Lifebrain highlights in 2020. We would like to thank you all for your great support and interest in Lifebrain and wish you a happy and safe Christmas holiday! 

Source: Colourbox

Lifebrain and Norwegian Brain Council webinar on brain health

On June 10, 2020, the Lifebrain consortium and the Norwegian Brain Council jointly organized a webinar to present latest Lifebrain research findings on the impact of loneliness, depression and sleep on brain health. An interesting finding shared in this webinar was that loneliness may slightly accelerate memory decline in advanced age. Read more about the findings here. The webinar is available for replay.

Closing of the Global Brain Health Survey

On August 31, Lifebrain closed the Global Brain Health Survey. We have collected data on people’s perceptions of brain health and willingness to take care of their brain by adopting new lifestyles. In total, 27,590 persons from 81 countries responded to the survey. To our knowledge, this is the largest survey on brain health ever conducted. Respondents to the survey are primarily located in United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Denmark, and are women between 41 and 70 years of age. The data are expected to give interesting insights into how sex, experience of brain diseases or being a caretaker plays a role in endorsing brain health measures in daily life. Thanks to all who responded to the survey and helped us disseminate it! More about the survey.

Workshop with co-organizers of the Global Brain Health Survey

The next step is to analyze the large amounts of data collected in the Global Brain Health Survey. On September 22, Lifebrain organized a workshop with the survey co-organizers to discuss analytical strategies and opportunities to compare our collected data with datasets from other brain health surveys in the United Kingdom and Slovenia. The survey co-organizers emphasized the importance of translating the survey results into clear and concise recommendations to policymakers for the promotion of brain health that aligns with people’s perceptions and their daily lives. Our teams in Oslo and Oxford are now working on the data analyses and we expect to have exciting findings to present in 2021.
The survey co-organizers include national brain councils in Norway, Germany, and Belgium, the Brain Foundation Netherlands, the Swedish Brain Foundationthe Women’s Brain Project, and the National University of Ostroh Academy in Ukraine. 

Sleep and brain health

We know that poor sleep may be associated with multiple age-related neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric conditions. In Lifebrain, we used imaging data from large European brain studies to investigate the relationship between self-reported sleep and the volume of the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory. We found that subjects who self-reported bad sleep quality, efficiency problems, and daytime tiredness, on average lost more hippocampus volume than those with good sleep. This relation seems to be quite stable across life. Read the full article here. In another study, we found that poor self-reported sleep is related to regional cortical thinning in aging but has no proven implications for memory decline. However, the size effects were small. Read the full article here.

Cerebral cortex and Alzheimer’s disease

As we get older, the cerebral cortex becomes thinner. Because the two hemispheres of the brain are functionally linked, anatomical changes in aging are thought to occur at the same rate in the brain’s hemispheres. A new Lifebrain paper reports the discovery that thinning of the cerebral cortex in aging is not occurring at equal rates in the brain’s hemispheres, uncovering a new principle of brain aging: the hemisphere that was thicker when younger, thins faster. This was confirmed in 4 Lifebrain cohorts, and was found to occur faster in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Read the full article here.

Using imaging data in brain research

Analyzing data from neuroimaging studies has great research value. However, it can be challenging to share neuroimaging data across studies due to privacy concerns. Lifebrain developed a new method to analyze large neuroimaging datasets without having to use individual participant data; thus, circumventing privacy and other regulatory concerns. Read the full article here.

Blood biomarkers

Several hundreds markers of diet, inflammation, and some risk factors of disease are analyzed in Vitas – a Norwegian contract laboratory, which is member of the Lifebrain consortium. Combining biomarkers from blood, brain imaging and cognitive tests represent a relatively new twist to the field of brain biology. From some preliminary data it seems to be a link between a certain lipid called diacylglycerol and sleep, although it turns out to be much more complicated than expected. See the video on brain biomarkers here (from minute 43).

Plans for 2021: Consortium meeting and public lecture, June 7-8

Lifebrain is planning to have its next consortium meeting in Amsterdam and we hope for a physical meeting. We will also organize a public lecture to present the latest Lifebrain research findings. The lecture will be a physical meeting or a webinar depending on the sanitary situation. Results from the Global Brain Health Survey are also expected to be available in 2021. Follow us on our Facebook/Twitter updates!

Source of newsletter

This newsletter was edited by Isabelle Budin Ljøsne, Senior advisor, Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Christian A. Drevon, Professor emeritus of Medicine (nutrition) at the University of Oslo, and consultant in the analytical contract laboratory Vitas Ltd. in Oslo Science Park.


Your comments are always valuable to us, so do not hesitate to contact us.

Center for Lifespan Changes in Brain and Cognition at the University of Oslo
Kristine B. Walhovd project coordinator
Barbara B. Friedman administrative coordinator
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This project has received funding from the European Union ’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732592.
Copyright © 2020 Lifebrain Horizon2020 project, All rights reserved.

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