DEAR DR. MICHELLE,
I’m trying to think of a gift for my aging parents that would promote cognitive activity. Do you have any ideas?
The holiday season brings lots of opportunity for cognitive and social stimulation. Games and toys are not just for kids – there is a booming market of games, puzzles, and interactive ventures geared towards grownups. I’ve seen these in a range of prices and options online, in specialty stores, and in general department stores. Gifts of music, crafts, hobbies (like gardening, cooking, woodworking) are all cognitively stimulating and are often social as well.
Consider what your parents like to do and see if you can find something in that category and, perhaps, throw in something new and adventurous. If you and other family members and friends can participate in the activity, even better. The social, cognitive, and emotional boost of doing things together will be a triple bonus. Who says you have to be a kid to have so much fun?
DEAR DR. MICHELLE,
Can psilocybin or other hallucinogens treat or prevent memory loss?
Because of the effect that psychedelics can have on certain brain receptors, it has been suggested that these drugs may also help to increase brain cell connections and plasticity, leading to better cognitive performance. Evidence for these effects has been shown in some laboratory and animal studies. However, the effect of psychedelics on memory loss and cognitive performance in humans has not been carefully studied. Future research is needed to establish any beneficial effect. Clinical trials can help determine dosing strategies, safety protocols, and treatment expectations.
This “trip” needs science and professionals as a guide and no, we’re not there yet.
*Michelle Papka, Ph.D. is the Founder of The Cognitive and Research Center of New Jersey (The CRCNJ) in Springfield, NJ. The mission of The CRCNJ is to provide no-cost diagnostic, treatment and supportive resources through clinical research opportunities to people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.