WHY YOUR MEMORY IMPROVES WITH AGE; Irish Daily Mail, Monday, January 16, 2012 Walk into Rooms and Forget Why You're There? Lost Your Thingamajig? There's Good News. (Well, Up to a Point, Anyway)
Byline: by John Naish
SENIOR moments? Forget them. Now it's middle-aged muddle we must worry about. Scientists last week declared that our ability to remember everyday things such as names and numbers starts to go at the tender age of 45.
But before you resign yourself to spending the second half of your life as a mental basket-case, there is positive scientific news, too. For memory is a strange and complex thing, as this guide to the mind makes clear ...
FIRST THE BAD NEWS ...
LAST week's study of more than 7,000 civil servants in London revealed how our power of recall starts to decline earlier than previously thought. Men and women suffered the same 3.6 per cent loss in memory power between the ages of 45 and 49, revealed the ten-year study published online in the British Medical Journal.
Fears about age-related memory loss are hardly new. Plato wrote that when a man grows old, he 'can no more learn much than he can run much'. But evidence of problems in mid-life is worrying because these may be the first signs of a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). This is an accelerated loss of memory power that can, in about half of cases, turn out to be the first early sign of Alzheimer's. Scientists believe that Alzheimer's can begin in the brain two or three decades before serious symptoms appear.
Regardless of our Alzheimer's risk, though, we all seem to suffer some loss of mental capacity from a comparatively young age. Studies show
that the processing speed in our brains slows down from our 20s onwards. 'By mid-life, most of our brains show some fraying around the edges,' says Barbara Strauch, author of The Secret Life Of The Grown-Up Brain.
'People's names are often the first edge to go ragged,' she adds. 'But the names are not technically gone. For the most part, it's a problem of retrieval, not storage.'
This difficulty is not caused by a simple loss of brain cells. Scientists used to think that we lost 30 per cent of our brain cells through ageing.
But recent studies show that the loss is much smaller. Instead, advancing years can bring a drop in the levels of chemical messengers in our brain -- called neurotransmitters. …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: WHY YOUR MEMORY IMPROVES WITH AGE; Irish Daily Mail, Monday, January 16, 2012 Walk into Rooms and Forget Why You're There? Lost Your Thingamajig? There's Good News. (Well, Up to a Point, Anyway). Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Daily Mail (London). Publication date: January 16, 2012. Page number: 44. © 2007 Daily Mail. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
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