And, early plaque build-up in brain may not play as strong a role in recall issues as suspected
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Amy Norton
MONDAY, March 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Can't remember that work colleague's name? Misplaced your keys again? Don't fret: a new study finds that nearly everyone will suffer more memory lapses as they age, with men being more vulnerable to failing memory than women.
The study also reported that people's memory skills and brain volume typically decline with age -- and, surprisingly, it seems to have little to do with the buildup of brain "plaques" that mark Alzheimer's disease, the study suggests.
The researchers said their findings challenge a prevailing view on the aging brain.
Experts have speculated that when older adults start having memory lapses, it may be a sign of early Alzheimer's disease -- and likely related to abnormal clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid that accumulate in the brain.
"But our findings suggest that memory actually declines in almost everybody, and well before there is any amyloid deposition in the brain," said Dr. Clifford Jack, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who led the study.
Beta-amyloid deposits -- commonly called plaques -- are still a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, Jack said. But the new findings suggest that they do not "initiate" the disease process, and instead enter the picture later.
"There seems to be a profound effect of aging, itself, on memory -- independent of amyloid," Jack said. "We think that [amyloid] pathology tends to arise late in life, to accelerate a pre-existing decline in memory."
According to Jack, that offers some good news.
"The memory decline that people often experience as they get older is usually not an indicator of underlying Alzheimer's pathology," he said. "So it in no way means you're inevitably going to become demented."
Other researchers called the findings "very important."
"What this shows very clearly is that memory and brain volume are declining years before any amyloid is present," said Dr. Charles DeCarli, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Davis.
The bottom line is, age-related mental decline "is not as simple as we'd like it to be," said DeCarli, who wrote an editorial published with the study.
source : Age-Linked Memory Loss May Be Worse for Men, Study Finds