Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health
New Clues as to Why Some Senior Citizens May Be Losing Their Memory
Elderly with silent strokes scored worse on memory tests, even if hippocampus was normal size
Jan. 3, 2012 - New research links ‘silent
strokes,’ or small spots of dead brain cells, found in about one out of four
older adults to memory loss in the elderly. The study is published in today’s print issue of
medical journal of the
American Academy of Neurology.
“The new aspect of this study of memory loss in the elderly is that it examines silent strokes and hippocampal shrinkage
simultaneously,” said study author Adam M. Brickman, PhD, of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at
Columbia University Medical Center in New York.
For the study, a group of 658 people ages 65 and older and free of dementia were given MRI brain scans. Participants also
underwent tests that measured their memory, language, speed at processing information and visual perception. A total of 174 of the
participants had silent strokes.
The study found 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 center 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,” said Brickman.
“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.”
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 24,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to
promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care.
A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating
and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury,
Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit
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