Scientists find clue to age-related memory loss
WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists have found a compelling clue in the quest to learn what causes age-related memory problems, and to one day be able to tell whether those misplaced car keys are an early warning of Alzheimer's.
Wednesday's report offers evidence that age-related memory loss is a distinct condition from pre-Alzheimer's - and offers a hint that what we now consider the normal forgetfulness of old age might eventually be treatable.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York examined brains, young and old ones, donated from people who died without signs of neurologic disease. They discovered that a certain gene in a specific part of the hippocampus, the brain's memory centre, quits working properly in older people. It produces less of a key protein.
That section of the brain, called the dentate gyrus, has long been suspected of being especially vulnerable to ageing. Importantly, it's a different neural neighbourhood than where Alzheimer's begins to form.