THE COGNITIVE TIMES – Cracking the Cognitive Code of Alzheimer’s, Volume I, Part 2

How do we know if we are getting something right or wrong – in particular, how do we know if we are getting something all wrong, especially in the fight against Dementia and human brain development in general ???

Well, because if we were getting it mostly right, then we’d be mostly defeating it. When a doctor in London discovered that Cholera was spread through bad drinking water, rather than being airborne, then it was defeated. When another doctor realized that infant mortality rates were due to medical students going from autopsy to the maternity ward without washing their hands, he was severely ostracized by his medical peers.  Eventually, he was proven right and infant mortality rates dropped dramatically, as the simple concept of hygiene was introduced into standard medical practices.

The day should come – sooner than later – when we apply the same deductive reasoning skills to everything, in much the same ways that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did (vicariously through Sherlock Holmes) and understand that cognitive degeneration (aka, “Dementia”) will be logically observed as a process, pointing to, and at least providing partial proof that the FUNDAMENTALS of cognitive development were improperly or inefficiently installed.  In addition to applying the logic of Sherlock’s deductive reasoning skills, which means collecting ALL of the variables and facts, we ought to also employ the principles of e=mc2 to solve the mystery about Alzheimer’s, in the same way that the “theory of relativity” solved the major mysteries of the foremost forces of the universe. And more importantly, contrary to popular belief systems, we humans have never been exempt from the laws and forces of the universe.

This chapter entry examines how, how much, and exactly what we are getting right and wrong in the pursuit to fight the varying forms of Dementia. The official community believes we are right on the heels of gaining insight into the mystery of Alzheimer’s and Dementia – or rather they may actually believe they, and we along with them – are on the right heels of uncovering this mystery. There are countless organizations and research teams around the world doing their part, effectually, competing to decode this little beast that is causing monstrous conditions, robbing the quality of people’s lives and their relationships.

Pharmaceuticals of one type or another seem to be taking the lead for fighting , or at least halting  Dementia.  The more ambitious teams are certainly looking for a way to prevent it, or reversing the major memory loss ailments that define the conditions of Dementia.  None of the Pharmaceuticals thus far are showing any promise,  There was one that worked successfully on mice, while it failed in humans. (There’s a reason for that which will be discussed later),  For all we know there might be some neuro-technology works in progress, but any real official word on that front is basically silent or generally unknown, for now.

Typically, credible resources about any topic, and especially one as sensitive as Dementia, will be full of formal studies and references about one piece of research or another, until the resource itself becomes a mutual admirations text of scholars, and scientists “in the field” of their expertise — leaving common folk befuddled as to whose research is most valid, and what measures would be most advantageous to pursue. But there are a few efforts worth pointing out for officiality’s sake.  However, we will omit names and credentials, because anyone can look those up with the right search engine words, and this resource is to help people get to the heart of the matter.

So let’s make some unofficial and informal references to the leading contenders in this fight against Alzheimer’s.  Firstly, there’s the award-winning team of Neuroscientists who’ve uncovered the bio-chemical compositions of “tau” going off the reservation of its proper position and purpose, and subsequently forming “plaques” and “tangles” in the brain, thereby, clogging neuro-net activity (within the synapses) and thus imposing on memory, and generally debilitating “normal” cognitive processing skills.

Then there’s the genetic researchers. This area has revealed a particular gene know as APoE, (which deductive reasoning would tell us, must be operating as a mutation. Mutations can be good or bad, in the case and cause for supporting good cognitive processing, APoE is a bad mutation). This gene is generally evident or directly connected to the development of Dementia, but is also linked to wider sets of conditions and circumstances linked to Dementia, including the effects and parameters of diet, exercise, cholesterol, insulin/energy effects on brain, stress, and exercise.

But this APoE gene is hardly a sure thing in the development of Dementia. [This will also be discussed further]  There is apparently another particular gene that is more directly and rigorously distinctive, but relative to those that develop “early onset of Dementia”.  This specific set of cases is far less escapable( than the elusive APoE gene), and is suspected to be carried and genetically passed on within familial lines — but then again, so are the traditions of “Emotional Cognition”, which can affect epigenetic switches that turn genes on or off.  [This will also be discussed further on in another entry]

Moving on – –  there was a ten-year study done in Finland that showed that those with more cynical and narcissistic mindsets and impulses, tended to experience a compounding effect of the symptoms of Dementia as time went on.  This is more revealing than most would realize, because these features are consistent with close-mindedness, and the brain is naturally designed for open-mindedness, making lifetime learning a realistic process (especially considering the brain’s hard-wired postulates of “compassion” and “optimism” as the most vital factors for full human cognitive-brain potential). [These definitions will also be further detailed as we progress in this mini-series]

Alas, the more unrecognized but definitely leading contender with the official arena in the fight against Alzheimer’s is a Neuroscientist and his team at Rush University, investigating the features of what they’ve termed as “cognitive reserve”.  If you’re banking on  understanding the pathology of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, this is the team to place your bets with.  This team would e the only one on a truthful and honest trajectory for uncovering the pathology toward Dementia.  Essentially, what they have observed is the fickle nature of the APoE gene. What they have discovered is that some individuals possess the ApoE gene, and may also show a pathology of plaques and tangle, but have escaped suffering memory loss or cognitive impairment.  on the other hand, there are individual who may have neither the APoE gene, nor excessive plaques and tangle, yet have still developed and exhibited the degenerative traits of Dementia, and hence, memory loss as well as various other cognitive impairments.

The interesting factor in the studies conducted by the researchers at RUSH is that they’ve cast a net over other significant factors contributing to “cognitive reserve”.  They have looked into, and compared, educational backgrounds and social structures/interactions/tendencies of several of these individuals.  While similar educational backgrounds can essentially be ruled out — it is the social connections that shine more of a light on their “cognitive reserve”.  This is an indisputable feature, particularly, because the human brain is an emotional-cognitive developed organ processing knowledge and information and fully dependent upon relationships, which in turn depend on communication and language (both requisite parts of cognitive development) – – and altogether, are intrinsically, inextricably and directly tied to the human brain’s ultimate capabilities.  That is to say that all human cognitive processing, as already mentioned, are built on the brain’s hard-wired elements of Compassion and Optimism, and EVERYTHING we do, think, feel, learn and create are designed to operate on the reasoning logic of these two naturally hard-wired skills.

This seemingly abstract and perhaps elusive concept of “cognitive reserve” can hardly be examined under a microscope, so naturally it is going to be subject to lots of scrutiny in the science community. But while we’re on the topic, deductive reasoning is more rigorous and reliable than pure scientific proof or evidence, after all, things are only scientifically proven because they are true.  And, let’s of course keep in mind that Einstein himself knew this to be true otherwise he would have waited around for scientific evidence to confirm what he surmised about light and gravity. In line with true innovative thinking, the idea came first and the proof only proved the deductive reasoning process.  Remember, whatever Neuroscientists say, Dementia in all of its varieties is fundamentally a cognitive-degenerative issue, and therefore its constitution and constructs must be based on the general mechanisms of genuine cognitive processing.

The RUSH University researcher believe that this “cognitive reserve” is most likely rooted in some earlier stages of life’s cognitive processing abilities.  Their intention is to investigate “how far back” they need to look to identify where and when this “cognitive reserve” is established and secured.  Keep in mind that cognition is a mathematical function and therefore deductive reasoning is fully applicable to demystifying the degenerative-cognitive processes of Dementia. Cognition is indeed a math process, but so is EVERYTHING,, So, if they were doing the math in order to find out “how far back” they need to go, then the logical math reasoning process would say, let’s go all the way back to the beginning, more specifically at point zero.

Why they have missed this calculation is somewhat incomprehensible, but this is where this series steps in….

We’ve all heard it exclaimed that the elderly demonstrate a sort of second childhood stage of life.  It is undoubtedly a quaint and empathetic way of describing the naïve innocence capturing the senior years of life.  There is definitely an attitude of carefree-ness and even a partially liberated removal from a lifetime of expectations and protocols that were imposed upon them for a whole lifetime — very  much reflecting  the way children behave in their everyday exploration of life.

However, for the most part, this second childhood is more un-childlike than it is childlike.  The reason for this assumption? Simple!  Childhood is predominantly hallmarked by the remarkable way in which children learn and absorb new knowledge and information with positively alarming rates. Our foremost predilection as humans is to learn.  Aside from the fact that (in many western societies) we give the elderly far more license and sympathy to act like children than we allow children to act like children, the elderly fail to show any signs of learning at the rate that young children learn.

Moreover, the majority of the ways we learn for a whole lifetime, i.e., are capable of applying the traits of brain plasticity, these flexible cognitive processes are established during the early foundational stages of cognitive development — indeed they are established during AND ONLY DURING the 3 – 5 year old stage of intuitive-cognitive brain development.

Unbeknownst to these well-intended researchers is that the “cognitive reserve” that they have rightfully uncovered or stumbled upon, is really the impervious attributes and aptitudes of intuitive intelligence capabilities defining the true hallmark of human “integration”. When “emotional cognition” and “intellectual cognition” and “willful/volitional cognition” are on the same page and operating by the same cognitive principles, then the intuitive development of deductive reasoning becomes the most powerful tool for lifetime learning (and giving rise to the more advanced paradigm shift concept of “Quantitative Reasoning” and “Computational Thinking”, relative to both humans and computers).

Again, as previously mentioned (in Part 1of Vol I) , the precise cognitive impairment skills that go awry in the senior years are the exact fundamental cognitive development skills that are imprecisely developed during that famous “foundation for EVERYTHING” stage of life — and this skills set, which we should all possess, regardless of our particularly individual talents and abilities, literally ties together the early stages of cognitive development with the latter life stages of cognitive applications.  There can never be any de-centralizing these features or disconnecting them as though one has nothing to do with the other – – the early stages ARE the foundations for everything in life.  And that is why there are certain elements and milestones that are requisite and relative to ALL young children during the early stages of cognitive development.

The ultimate outcome of the intuitive-cognitive process — that certain “cognitive reserve” as the central exploratory focus of the RUSH team –can only be fully uncovered by having a genuine comprehensive look into the “preschool brain”.  unless children learn in pure cognitively correct contexts, then intuitive-cognitive capacities are going to break down somewhere, somehow, sometime.  But even if a minimum flow of the basic elements for critical reasoning, across the dimensions of every fundamental cognitive function are established, then this could easily guard against the debilitating traits of Dementia (causing a lack of deductive reasoning even with our most celebrated skills — but more significantly, deductive reasoning skills that would have been infused into our emotional cognition during the first three years of development).

But this is more than most folks can bare to delve into and understand, even for some of the most advanced cognitive neuro-science researchers in the world.  So let’s talk about something that most people do understand – WAR, more specifically, let’s look at World War II. And by the way, of all the things to study in school so intensely – war? – seriously? War is totally inconsistent with genuine brain potential, yet, most schools offer zero courses in the ways that the human brain authentically learns and develops – is that absolutely moronic or what?

This is the end of Part 2, Vol I – – Part 3 of Vol I will return



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