Mastication, cognition and depression in elderly people with dementia
01 / 2008 - 01 / 2012
Veterinary research has shown a degeneration of the hippocampus upon removing teeth and molars in mice. The hippocampus plays a crucial role in learning and memory. Studies with young adults have proven that learning and memory improve during mastication. Our own group has recently shown that for healthy older people, there is a correlation between the functional status of the masticatory system, executive function and episodic memory, i.e. the better the masticatory status, the better the executive functions and memory. The level of performance of executive functions is highly dependent on the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe and the hippocampus, associated with executive functions and memory, respectively, are extremely vulnerable in the several (sub) types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia. In this research project, the correlation between mastication, cognition and depression in elderly people with dementia will be studied. There is ample reason to assume that the correlation between masticatory function and cognition will also be present in elderly people with dementia, and, that chewing will have a positive effect on their cognitive functioning, mood, and sleep-wake rhythm. The study is a longitudinal intervention, where improvement/ less deterioration of the cognitive functions is expected as a result of improved oral hygiene, masticatory status and diet.