New Clues About Memory Loss In Older People

New research published in Neurology links ‘silent strokes,’ found in one out of four older adults to memory loss in the elderly. A study of memory loss in the elderly examined both silent strokes and hippocampal shrinkage simultaneously.

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.

The authors point out that “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. 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.”

Neurology January 3, 2012 vol. 78 no. 1 38-46