Dead brain cells erode memory

December 29th, 2011 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 29 (IANS) Small spots of dead brain cells, found in about one out of four older adults, is linked with memory loss, a study says.

“The new aspect of this study of memory loss is that it examines silent strokes and hippocampal shrinkage simultaneously,” said study author Adam M. Brickman from the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease at the Columbia University.

The hippocampus is the part of brain that is involved in memory forming, organising and storing.

A group of 658 people, aged 65 years and older and free of dementia, were given MRI brain scans. They also underwent tests that measured their memory, language, speed at processing information and visual perception, the journal Neurology reports.

Some 174 participants had silent strokes (affecting small brain areas which don’t produce any symptoms), according to an institute statement.

The study found that people with silent strokes scored somewhat worse on memory tests than those without silent strokes. This was true whether or not people had a small hippocampus, which is the memory centre of the brain.

“Given that conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are defined mainly by memory problems, our results may lead to further insight into what causes symptoms and the development of new interventions for prevention.

“Since silent strokes and the volume of the hippocampus appeared to be associated with memory loss separately in our study, our results also support stroke prevention as a means for staving off memory problems,” said Brickman.

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