Dementia hope

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Your story about a “pacemaker” for dementia (8 April) is deeply disturbing. It contravenes ethical guidelines on reporting of any claimed health science breakthrough.

Patients and relatives weep when I have to tell them that newspaper sub-editors put quotation marks in the headline because even they believe it’s not true or they’ve not checked it. The reporting of this study over-claims its conclusions.

What works to improve memory for middle aged rats is a long way from humans with dementia. My memory for times tables was arguably improved by threat of corporal punishment at school but I would not claim that threatening people with dementia “could help their memory”. The reporting of the researchers’ false tenuous claims as “news” is just unfair and cruel to people with dementia.

(Prof) June Andrews

Director of the 
Dementia Services 
Development Centre

University of Stirling