Auriel A Willette

Auriel A Willette is affiliated with Iowa State University.[1]He specializes in food science and human nutrition.[2]He is a member of Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.[1]

Willette’s work focused on an area of the brain — the medial temporal lobe and specifically the hippocampus — that is critical for learning new things and sending information to long-term memory.[3]She and Webb analyzed anxiety and motor function using the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale – a tool that measures progression of the disease.[4]

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Iowa State University


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Being excessively fat may make you lose your memory

A new Iowa State University study found a strong association between insulin resistance and memory function decline, increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Auriel Willette, a research scientist university, said that insulin resistance is common in people who are obese, pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes. Willette and co-author Barbara Bendlin, examined brain scans in 150 late middle-aged adults, who were at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, but showed no sign of memory loss. The scans detected if people with higher levels of insulin resistance used less blood sugar in areas of the brain most susceptible to Alzheimer’s.[5]


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Brain enzyme could help predict memory loss and type 2 diabetes

Willette's previous research found a link between insulin resistance and damaging brain outcomes, and following this new study Kelsey McLimans, a graduate research assistant, said the autotaxin provides a "higher predictive rate for having Alzheimer's disease". McLimans added: "We also found correlations with worse memory function, brain volume loss and the brain using less blood sugar, which have also been shown with insulin resistance, but autotaxin has a higher predictive value." The results showed levels of autotaxin could help predict the amount of brain energy used in areas which are affected by Alzheimer's. Higher autotaxin levels also meant people had less brain cells in the areas which are linked to memory. She said: "Autotaxin is related to less real estate in the brain, and smaller brain regions in Alzheimer's disease mean they are less able to carry out their functions.[7]


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Family history of dementia ups risk of developing disease

Middle-aged people with a family history of dementia and a longer version of the TOMM40 gene had twice as much memory loss up to 10 years later than those with the shorter gene version. Dr Auriel Willette, of Iowa State University, said: ‘It was kind of a shot in the dark, but we found if you don’t have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, then having a longer version of the gene is a good thing. ‘It is related to better memory up to 10 years later and about one-fifth of the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Willette and his colleagues tracked changes in memory loss and cognitive function over time for middle-aged people at risk for Alzheimer’s, while the other group tracks similar changes in older people with and without the disease.[6]


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Brain activity helps explain diabetics' negative feelings, risk for depression

A new Iowa State University study suggests those negative feelings may stem from problems regulating blood sugar levels that influence emotional response in the brain. The study found people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes were more likely to focus on and have a strong emotional response to threats and negative things, which affects quality of life and increases risk for depression. Auriel Willette, an ISU assistant professor of food science and human nutrition; Tovah Wolf, lead author and a graduate student working with Willette on this project; and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed data on startle response, brain activity, cortisol levels and cognitive assessment. Willette - Response - Researchers - System - Activity Willette says gauging the startle response allowed researchers to measure central nervous system activity using tiny electrodes placed below the eye.[8]


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