Excellent Newsweek article drew from multiple sources to explain a study on the brain volume and structure of Alzheimer’s patients
Kashmira Gander – writing for Newsweek – discusses a study that was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine in January 2020 that analyzed the brain volume and structure of Alzheimer’s patients. The study is part of an ongoing study looking at several aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Gander does a good job of characterizing the methods and overall intent of this research article She aptly summarizes the articles complicated jargon and presents the results in a way that is easy for an independent reader to understand. Each subsection of the study that is relevant is discussed in great detail and clarity. For example, she correctly represents the differences in tau and amyloid protein buildup and effects that were seen in the study
The news article brings in several other sources to justify the conclusions that the study made. Gander includes commentary from the study’s lead author, Renaud La Joie, that compliments the scientific discussion in a professional manner. Perspectives from other sources, such as the Alzheimer’s society, not involved in the original study are also used to establish the credibility of the results.
As scientific studies are commonly filled with confusing vocabulary, they consistently fail to be inclusive of the general public. Articles such as the one written by Kashmira Gander serve as excellent conduits of information from different tiers of scientific expertise. This is beneficial as it brings important findings into reach of the majority of the population.
In this article for Newsweek, Kashmira Gander describes a study published in Science Transitional Medicine investigating brain atrophy (loss of neurons and connections between them) and structure through MRI and PET scans in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s. This study, done at the University of California’s Memory and Aging Center, is part of an ongoing study involving patients with Alzheimer’s: a type of dementia that causes memory, thinking and behavioural problems whose symptoms usually develop and increase in severity over time. The lead author of the study, Renaud La Joie, and colleagues specifically looked at beta-amyloid plaques and tau-containing tangles, two protein markers that are known to play a crucial role in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s when build up occurs.
Gander does an excellent job of highlighting the major findings of the study, outlining the researcher’s method and objective clearly in a way that is very easy for the reader to understand and follow. She accurately touches on the major conclusions made by the researchers without including extraneous detail, such as the particularly strong link found between amount of tau detected in primary scan and later atrophy. She does not over-exaggerate or under-simplify this finding or any others she highlights in the article.
The article not only highlights what is already known about Alzheimer’s and similar past studies, but also effectively highlights the limitations of the study (such as a small sample size and age range of the patients) and uses commentary from La Joie in acknowledgement of the studies limitations. The incorporation of La Joie’s perspective on the results of the study, and the voice of experts not involved in the study from the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK provides a degree of respectability and credibility to Gander’s words. The added commentary from La Joie and others allows Gander to remain neutral and avoid introducing bias when discussing the study and its findings.
Gander uses numerous sources outside of La Joie and other experts to support any claims, all of which are cited and publicly available. The original study is linked early in the news article and is easily accessible as well. The original study uses advanced scientific jargon. Gander effectively defines and simplifies any complex language for the reader so the objective and conclusions of the study are clear and understandable, making it possible for scientific information like this to reach and resonate with a broader audience.
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