Memory loss may be reversible
A new study conducted at Yale University discovered that the memory loss that some older adults experience may actually be reversible if the right steps are taken.
"Age-related cognitive deficits can have a serious impact on our lives in the information age as people often need higher cognitive functions to meet even basic needs, such as paying bills or accessing medical care," said Amy Arnsten, a member of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience. "These abilities are critical for maintaining demanding careers and being able to live independently as we grow older."
The researchers examined the "working memory" part of the brain, which comes into play when a person is trying to remember short-term information - like where the car keys are - or trying to multi-task or conduct complex organization.
Arnsten and her colleagues discovered that the firing process in younger mice was faster than in older subjects, but if certain neurochemicals were adjusted, more mature mice could experience a boost to their cognitive function that made the process just as robust as in the other mice.
The real key appeared to be found by studying excessive levels of a molecule called cAMP, which starts to become detrimental to the brain after accumulating for years. The research showed that guanfacine, a type of medicine used for children with ADHD, actually helped restore function by reducing those levels.
Arnsten believes that the drug could someday be used to help prevent Alzheimer's disease and other dementias as well.
"When you inhibit cAMP, you restore connectivity and the cells are able to excite each other again," she said, according to The Guardian.
Experts suggest that another way to keep the mind sharp is to constantly have new experiences and stay social. One study found that adults who spend most of their time alone are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who live vibrant, social lifestyles, according to Healthday News.
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