The scene was a kind of science court. On trial was the question “Can anything — running on a treadmill, eating more spinach, learning Arabic — prevent Alzheimer’s disease or delay its progression?”
To try to answer that question, the National Institutes of Health sponsored the court, appointing a jury of 15 medical scientists with no vested interests in Alzheimer’s research. They would hear the evidence and reach a judgment on what the data showed.
For a day and a half last spring, researchers presented their cases, describing studies and explaining what they had hoped to show. The jury also heard from scientists from Duke University who had been commissioned to look at the body of evidence and weigh it.
The studies included research on nearly everything proposed to prevent the disease. And they included research on traits that might hasten Alzheimer’s onset, like not having much of an education or being a loner.