Long-winded speech could be early sign of Alzheimer’s, says study

Rambling and long-winded anecdotes could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research that suggests subtle changes in speech style occur years before the more serious mental decline takes hold.

The scientists behind the work said it may be possible to detect these changes and predict if someone is at risk more than a decade before meeting the threshold for an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Janet Cohen Sherman, clinical director of the Psychology Assessment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: “One of the greatest challenges right now in terms of Alzheimer’s disease is to detect changes very early on when they are still very subtle and to distinguish them from changes we know occur with normal ageing.”

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Sherman outlined new findings that revealed distinctive language deficits in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to dementia.

“Many of the studies to date have looked at changes in memory, but we also know changes occur in language,” she said. “I’d hope in the next five years we’d have a new linguistic test.”

Sherman cites studies of the vocabulary in Iris Murdoch’s later works, which showed signs of Alzheimer’s years before her diagnosis, and the increasingly repetitive and vague phrasing in Agatha Christie’s final novels – although the crime writer was never diagnosed with dementia. Another study, based on White House press conference transcripts, found striking changes in Ronald Reagan’s speech over the course of his presidency, while George HW Bush, who was a similar age when president, showed no such decline.

“Ronald Reagan started to have a decline in the number of unique words with repetitions of statements over time,” said Sherman. “[He] started using more fillers, more empty phrases, like ‘thing’ or ‘something’ or things like ‘basically’ or ‘actually’ or ‘well’.”

Worsening “mental imprecision” was the key, rather than people simply being verbose, however. “Many individuals may be long-winded, that’s not a concern,” said Sherman.


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Traffic study ranks Los Angeles as world’s most clogged city

DETROIT (AP) — When it comes to getting stuck in traffic on the way to and from work, Los Angeles leads the world.

Drivers in the car-crazy California metropolis spent 104 hours each driving in congestion during peak travel periods last year. That topped second-place Moscow at 91 hours and third-place New York at 89, according to a traffic scorecard compiled by Inrix, a transportation analytics firm.

The U.S. had half the cities on Inrix’s list of the top 10 most congested areas in the world and was the most congested developed country on the planet, Inrix found. U.S. drivers averaged 42 hours per year in traffic during peak times, the study found. San Francisco was the fourth-most congested city, while Bogota, Colombia, was fifth, Sao Paulo ranked sixth and London, Atlanta, Paris and Miami rounded out the top 10.

Being stuck in traffic cost the average U.S. driver $1,400 last year and nearly $300 billion for all drivers nationwide, Inrix said.

Study authors said a stable U.S. economy, continued urbanization of big cities, employment growth and low gas prices all contributed to increased traffic and congestion worldwide in 2016, lowering the quality of life.


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All Renters Should Do These 10 Things

You’re a renter and you appreciate the lifestyle. Ask any homeowner who has received an unexpected roof repair bill, or had to call a plumber — or had to move to accept a job offer — and you’ll appreciate it even more — especially all of you “all inclusive” renters. Have you heard the news about hydro prices these days? Or do you enjoy your luxury of not having to pay attention to that issue.

 But rental living has a few demands that can be easily met by every resident, ensuring that their rental experience should be nothing but maintenance-free and smooth sailing.

1. Understand Your Lease

You signed it and you’re bound by it. Whenever you’re about to sign a contract – and yes, your lease is a legally binding contract – read it and make sure you understand it. If there is anything you don’t agree with, ask.If there is any wrong info, have it corrected. Leases can be negotiated, changed and rewritten. Once it’s signed, those are the rules.

2. Know Your Rights

Each province and territory has its own set of rental rules and there will be a landlord and tenant board or government office that enforces them. Know how to access them and understand the basics. If anything in your lease contradicts the rental law, the rental law overrules. If you have issues during your tenancy, these are a great place to start to find out what your rights are and how to resolve them. You’ll also need to know how your deposits work and how to give proper notice. If you do that wrong you might find yourself on the hook for a lot of money you weren’t expecting to spend.


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What is osteoarthritis and why is it so hard to diagnose?

When I was 28 years old, I was diagnosed with advanced stage osteoarthritis in my knee. I had injured it playing soccer as a teenager but, after surgery, it felt fine for years. The pain was hardly noticeable at first, just a little tenderness after a run or a long hike. But within a year or two, my knee was swelling up just from standing too long.

And I’m not alone. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about one in two people are affected by osteoarthritis at some point in life.

What has always surprised me – and what started me down the road to researching joint lubrication and arthritis – was how rapidly my condition progressed and how few treatment options were available.

For all intents and purposes, osteoarthritis is the end result of a complete breakdown of cartilage’s natural lubrication system, which ameliorates friction and protects surfaces from damage. Although cartilage uses a number of different easing processes, one of the most important is known as ‘weeping’ or ‘biphasic’ lubrication.

The structure of cartilage is rather like a water-swollen sponge made up of a dense collection of collagen micro-fibres linked into one continuous network. This three-dimensional net of fibres forms pores so small that the fluid inside cannot easily flow between them.

Every time you take a step, cartilages on opposing bones press together. The fluid trapped in the collagen fibre network becomes pressurised.


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Documentary Shows China’s Propaganda Reach in Canada

A Canadian-made documentary that shines a light on one of China’s largest soft-power initiatives is starting to pick up awards as it makes its rounds on the film festival circuit.

Filmmaker Doris Liu, a Chinese-Canadian journalist based in Toronto, got interested in Confucius Institutes when she heard the story of Sonia Zhao, who defected to Canada and went on to expose the unsavoury behind-the-scenes practices of what China bills as a Chinese language and culture program.

A Canadian-made documentary that shines a light on one of China’s largest soft-power initiatives is starting to pick up awards as it makes its rounds on the film festival circuit.


Filmmaker Doris Liu, a Chinese-Canadian journalist based in Toronto, got interested in Confucius Institutes when she heard the story of Sonia Zhao, who defected to Canada and went on to expose the unsavoury behind-the-scenes practices of what China bills as a Chinese language and culture program.

I understand that most CI host universities or school boards are not aware of how Hanban hires CI teachers or what requirements Hanban enforces on them.

— Doris Liu, filmmaker

Zhao came to Canada to teach at McMaster University’s Confucius Institute in 2011. Liu’s documentary “In the Name of Confucius” tells Zhao’s story amid the backdrop of a public showdown over the Toronto District School Board‘s controversial decision to bring a Confucius Institute (CI) to Canada’s largest school board.


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Twitter’s New Tool to Crack Down on Politically Incorrect Language

Twitter has launched a new way to punish users for bad behavior, temporarily “limiting” their account.

Some users are receiving notices their accounts are limited for 12 hours, meaning only people who follow them can see their tweets or receive notifications. When they are retweeted, people outside their network can’t see those retweets.

Some speculate these limitations are automatic based on keywords, but there is no hard evidence.

This would be fine if this was used uniformly to clamp down on harassment, but it appears to be used on people, simply for using politically incorrect language.

Take for example the Twitter user @Drybones5 who got his account limited after using the word “retarded.”

He claims he got his account limited directly after saying retarded twice. The first time he called a Nintendo policy adding paid extra content to their new Zelda game retarded.


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What Nutritionists Eat To Boost Their Mood

  • Does a cookie or a bag of chips really make a long, frustrating day better? Not exactly — but food can lift your spirits. That’s because the act of eating, in general, releases a hormone called oxytocin, which triggers feelings of pleasure, explains Torey Armul, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Yet, since relying on food as an emotional pick-me-up can lead to weight gain and chronic emotional eating, Armul usually reaches for one of the specific foods that’s scientifically linked to improved mood. One of her go-tos: any food that’s rich in folate, such as leafy greens, including spinach and kale. Consuming folate has been shown to raise levels of serotonin , a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in regulating mood. In fact, many antidepressants target serotonin production.

    How she eats it: Armul adds spinach to a surprising range of dishes, blending a cup of it in smoothies (she says the spinach taste is overpowered by the sweet flavor of fruit), shredding it for taco and sandwich toppings and stirring it into eggs (when making omelets), pasta dishes and soups.

  • The Feel-Good Fish


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