Category Archives: News

OLDER ADULTS WITH SUBJECTIVE COGNITIVE DECLINE (SCD) EXPERIENCE LASTING MENTAL HEALTH IMPROVEMENTS AFTER LIFESTYLE CHANGES IN LATER LIFE NEW SCIENTIFIC STUDY FINDS

Making lifestyle changes, such as taking up mindfulness or health self-management courses, can help improve the mental health of older adults who are already experiencing memory problems, according to a new scientific study.

The research, published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, studied the impact of an eight-week mindfulness or health self-management course on anxiety, which is associated with increased risk of dementia.

The volunteers, all with subjective cognitive decline (self-perceived memory problems that cannot be verified by testing), had anxiety levels measured before, directly after the courses and again six months later. The results showed that anxiety levels had reduced directly after both the mindfulness and health self-management courses , and the reduction was maintained at six months. No difference in reduction of anxiety was found between the courses.

Dr Natalie Marchant, of University College London, UK who led the trial, said: “Although we expected mindfulness meditation to have more of an impact on mental health, the results of our trial show that small but significant improvements in mental health can be observed after a short course of mindfulness or health self-management in people who are already experiencing some subjective cognitive decline, and the effects last for at least six months.”

The SCD-Well trial included 147 participants from memory clinics in France, Spain, Germany and the UK, with blood tests, cognitive assessments, and questionnaires used to assess the impact of the interventions.  The full details of the study can be viewed here.

Dr Marchant, concluded: “Our results offer an encouraging first step towards providing an intervention that could be used to reduce anxiety and potentially the risk of developing dementia which would benefit both individuals and society as a whole in terms of the associated emotional, health and social care costs of poor mental health.”

Hear from Jenny Cleary, of Loughton, Essex who took part in the SCD -Well trial after experiencing problems with her memory, by clicking on the image below.

SCD-Well clinical trial participant, Jenny Cleary, who took part in an eight-week mindfulness course.

Save the date: Mental health & well-being in the ageing population

Research, Risks and Recommendations

210519 - MA News Post EU

Wednesday 16th June 2021

09:30- 16:45 CEST

08:30- 15:45 BST

The Silver Santé Study invites you to Save the Date for the project’s online public meeting on Wednesday 16th June 2021. The meeting will focus on important and timely topics highlighting the research, risks and recommendations generated by participants in the Silver Santé Study with external guest speakers. The online event will be split into five sessions:

Session 1:  COVID-19 & its potential impact on health in ageing

Session 2: Lifestyle & Psycho-affective factors associated with brain health

Session 3: Meditation & Mindfulness – perception & practice change

Session 4: Mitigating the risk of developing dementia

Session 5: Voices from the study – the experiences of participants & their teachers

Register below.

Alternatively, use this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mental-health-well-being-in-the-ageing-population-tickets-153804672917

Silver Santé students showcase their research at ‘mini’ consortium meeting

Students and post-docs working on the Silver Santé Study will be sharing and showcasing their work with peers and supervisors at a ‘mini’ project consortium meeting.

The online meeting, organized by the participants themselves, will include more than 20 presentations from students working in France, the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany covering an exciting and varied array of topics grouped around the project’s work packages.

PhD student, Francesca Felisatti, of the University of Caen, who is one of the organisers, said: “The ‘mini meeting’ promises to be the ideal platform to share ongoing developments with peers and supervisors alike, and is a great opportunity to promote the work we are each doing.”

Co-organiser, Tim Whitfield, a PhD student at UCL, said: “I am thrilled that the Medit-Ageing students have been given the opportunity to conduct our own conference. The scientific standard of student and post-doc projects is very high, and I wait with excitement for their presentations at the forthcoming event!”

The one-day meeting will be followed by the project’s final full consortium meeting in June.

Some of the postgraduate students who will be taking part in the ‘mini’ consortium meeting.

Older adults with lower blood serotonin levels show more emotional brain activity when they face other people’s suffering, new Silver Santé research reveals

New research published by Silver Santé Study researchers has revealed that older people who have lower blood serotonin levels have more activity in brain regions associated with emotional reactivity, when they face the suffering of others.

The research, published in Biological Psychology, measured the blood serotonin levels of healthy older adults and then measured brain activity while they watched videos of people suffering. The 135 participants watched a series of documentary video clips showing people suffering both emotionally and physically while inside an fMRI scanner so that the immediate effects could be measured.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter present in both brain and blood which helps regulate mental well-being and other important physiological functions. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression. The full details of the study can be viewed here.

Yacila Deza-Araujo, of the University of Geneva, who led the research, said: “These results are very exciting because they show that lower levels of circulating serotonin could also indicate a decreased availability of this neurotransmitter on a brain level. This would explain the higher response of emotion-related brain regions when participants see videos of people suffering”.

“This is interesting because to date, the relationship between serotonin and emotional brain activity was only investigated with pharmacological interventions and mostly, in younger adults. Our study shows, for the first time, the same association in older adults which is particularly important to understand the higher predisposition to depression and anxiety in this population”.

The Silver Santé Study is a 5-year EU-funded study investigating the mental health and well-being of Europe’s ageing population. It is also investigating whether mental training techniques, such as learning a language or practicing meditation, can help safeguard mental health in later life. To find out more about the study click here.

Silver Santé Study partners share progress in online annual meeting

Partners from the 11 institutions in six countries that make up the Silver Santé Study consortium gathered online to share progress in their research as part of the project’s annual meeting.

The Zoom meeting, which took place in October, involved more than 40 people from the UK, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and France – all updating each other on the latest advances in their research and support work towards the goal of learning about how to safeguard mental health and well-being in the ageing population. The meeting also included an ‘elevator-pitch’ workshop devised and hosted by the project’s communications partner, Minerva UK.

Dr Géraldine Poisnel, of the coordinating team at Inserm, France, who organised the meeting, said: “This was our first online consortium meeting, due to the Covid restrictions, but it was wonderful to get all the partners and their teams together to discuss progress, make decisions as a group and make plans for the final stages of this important project.”

The project, which is due to end on December 31st 2020, has applied to the EC for a six-month extension due to the delays caused by the Covid pandemic and is awaiting news of the decision.

The Silver Santé Study consortium partners taking part in their annual meeting online in October 2020.

Edelweiss Touron victorious in Great Silver Santé Study Thesis Challenge!

PhD student, Edelweiss Touron, was crowned the winner of the project’s Great Silver Santé Study Thesis Challenge after impressing the judges with her clear, concise and well delivered thesis entitled ‘Is the cup half full or half empty?’.

Edelweiss, of the University of Caen, was one of 11 students from France, Belgium, and the UK working on the project to enter the competition. She impressed the judges with her presentation on the association of subclinical depressive symptoms with brain changes in healthy adults for its use of analogies, clear scientific explanation, and excellent presentation skills.

Harriet Demnitz-King, of UCL, was awarded second place for her presentation on the association between repetitive negative thinking and markers of Alzheimer’s disease. In third place was Francesca Felisatti, of the University of Caen for her presentation entitled ‘All roads lead to Rome’ for which she also won the ‘audience choice’ award, voted on by all participants in the consortium meeting.

The judges – Eric Salmon of the University of Liège, Rhonda Smith of Minerva UK, and Olga Klimecki of University of Geneva – praised the students for the excellent standard of the presentations overall and said it was extremely difficult to choose the winner.

Click on the image below to watch Edelweiss’s winning presentation.

Final round of Age Well follow-up visits planned to start in January 2021

Wave 1 participants in our Age Well clinical trial are being invited to attend Cyceron for their fourth and final round of follow-up tests in January 2021.

The 42 participants, all aged 65+, have kindly agreed to take part in this additional round of tests to further strengthen validation of the trial by studying whether the effects of mental training techniques persist over time.

The group, all based in Caen, France, have been helping our expert researchers learn more about mental health & well-being in the ageing population. After taking part in a series of baseline tests, each volunteer was randomly assigned to one of three groups – an English language course, a meditation course, or a control group in which participants made no changes to their lifestyle.

Project Coordinator Dr Gaël Chételat, of Cyceron, says: “The safety and well-being or all our participants is our primary concern, which is why the follow-up visits were postponed until January.

“We will be constantly monitoring the situation and the visits will only go ahead if we are confident we can properly safeguard the health the volunteers who have kindly devoted so much of their time to helping us learn more about mental health in the ageing population.”

Blood tests, neuroimaging scans and questionnaires have been used by our expert researchers to assess the impact of the mental training techniques on the brain. The volunteers’ lifestyle habits – such as sleep, diet, physical exercise and emotions – have also been monitored.

Final follow-up tests for participants in waves 2 and 3 are expected to take place in September 2021 and February 2022, respectively.

An AGE WELL participant takes part in a neuroimaging test at Cyceron, France.

The Great Silver Santé Thesis Challenge

PhD students working on the Silver Santé Study will be putting their presentation skills to the test as part of a thesis contest to be held during the project’s annual consortium meeting.

The competition – called the Great Silver Santé Thesis Challenge – will take place during the online meeting in October and will see 11 PhD students from France, Germany, Belgium and the UK present their thesis to all the consortium partners.

Each student will present their thesis live during the meeting over a maximum of three minutes and will be judged on the presentation content, how well they convey their research and results, the impact it creates and their presentation skills.

In addition, all meeting participants – which will include representatives from all 11 partner organisations in 6 countries – will get to vote for an ‘audience choice’ winner.

The winners will be announced via social media and here on our news page after the consortium meeting on 12-13 October.

Some of the postgraduate students who will be taking part in the Great Silver Santé Thesis Challenge.

Silver Santé Study data sharing now available

Silver Santé Study is sharing data from its two clinical trials – AGE WELL and SCD WELL – with other research projects working in the field of mental health.

The study’s consortium partners have agreed a policy of data sharing with the aim of sharing knowledge with other researchers to further efforts to improve the mental health of our population and to prevent mental health conditions such as dementia.

Anyone wishing to access the data must first submit a data sharing request to the project’s Executive Committee. For full details of how to request the data, please visit our data sharing page

An SCD Well participant completes a questionnaire about taking part in the study.


Project featured in series of France 3 ‘ageing well’ documentaries

Participants and researchers from our AGE WELL clinical trial in Caen, France, have appeared in a series of films aired on France 3 in Normandy.

The series, which focused on ‘ageing well’, included five programmes – each five minutes long – which featured interviews with AGE WELL participants, details of the tests they are undergoing, and interviews with project researchers including Dr Gaël Chételat, Dr Géraldine Poisnel, and Dr Géraldine Rauchs at Cyceron in Caen.

To view the French language films, visit the France 3 page about the programme here.

Volunteers taking part in an English class as part of the Age Well trial

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