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Age-related Memory Loss Can Be Identified As Early As Age 8

The human brain is the most complex organ, the command centre of the human nervous system. Being the central organ, the brain controls most of the bodily activities and help the process, integrate and coordinate information.

With time and age, the functions of your organs can deteriorate and your brain to undergoes these changes. Memory loss, the primary indication of ageing is normal and nothing to be worried about.

However, it is critical that you have a well-functioning brain because, without memory skills, one would not even be able to learn anything, be it studies or basic life skills because most of the actions we carry out are learnt from imitation and remembering when we are younger [1] .

Memory can be described as a cognitive process in which a person's mind or brain, stores information so that it can be retrieved whenever required. Like forgetfulness, mild memory loss is something that tends to increase with your age and according to a recent study, memory loss in the later stages of life can be detected as early as age 8 [2] .

Thinking And Memory Tests Indicated Age-related Memory Loss

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University College London (UCL), memory loss and mental decline in old age are largely decided by the age of eight. The tests comprised of testing the memory and thinking skills of respondents in their late 60s and 70s and compared the results to similar cognitive tests that they took as schoolchildren in 1954 [3] .

A 73-year-long study, it involved examining various arrangements of geometric shapes and identifying the missing piece from five options, while others evaluated skills like memory, attention, orientation and language.

The understanding that age-related memory decline can be gathered from the study was acquired when the researchers found that one of the participants who had a cognitive performance in the top 25 per cent as a child, remained in the top 25 per cent at age 70[4] - thereby supporting the claim that age-related memory loss can indeed be detected early.

Findings Can Help Treat Degenerative Mental Illnesses

The researchers asserted that the study result can help determine which aspects might be modifiable by education or lifestyle changes like exercise, diet or sleep, which may, in turn, slow the development of cognitive decline [5] . Because respondents who had completed a college degree scored around 16 per cent higher than those who had left school before the age of 16. Therefore making education a significant determinant of improved mental capabilities.

One of the researchers said, "our study found that small differences in thinking and memory associated with amyloid plaques in the brain are detectable in older adults even at an age when those who are destined to develop dementia are still likely to be many years away from having symptoms" [4] .

On A Final Note...

Although the study has pointed to have grounded theories in determining age-related mental decline and memory loss by the age of eight, the researchers also pointed out that the results do not represent the general population as all of the participants were white.

View Article References
  1. [1] Vidal-Piñeiro, D., Sneve, M. H., Nyberg, L. H., Mowinckel, A. M., Sederevicius, D., Walhovd, K. B., & Fjell, A. M. (2018). Maintained frontal activity underlies high memory function over 8 years in aging. Cerebral Cortex, 1, 13.
  2. [2] Khan, A. A. (2018). Investigating the mechanisms of action of phytocannabinoids and a novel cognitive enhancer to target the comorbidity of temporal lobe epilepsy (Doctoral dissertation, UCL (University College London)).
  3. [3] Kosmidis, S., Polyzos, A., Harvey, L., Youssef, M., Denny, C. A., Dranovsky, A., & Kandel, E. R. (2018). RbAp48 protein is a critical component of GPR158/OCN signaling and ameliorates age-related memory loss. Cell Reports, 25(4), 959-973.
  4. [4] Knapton, S. (2019, October 31). Memory loss and mental decline in old age largely decided by age of eight, study shows
  5. [5] Brickman, A. M., Small, S. A., & Yeung, L. K. (2018). U.S. Patent Application No. 15/506,990.

Story first published: Thursday, November 7, 2019, 9:30 [IST]
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