Although some scientists argue that memory loss is not age related, there is more statistical research to support that it is. According to most research, everyone will be affected by memory problems as they age. Some of these problems occur because of the dying off of neural connections in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for memory, the ability to multitask, abstract thought and reasoning, and cognitive functions like the ability to understand what you read and see.

A Yale University study, reported in the journal Nature, seems to have uncovered the cellular defect that can cause some memory lapses, specifically those found in people affected by Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Results from tests on older lab monkeys have shown weaker connections in the prefrontal cortex than the connections on younger animals. The good news is, however, this problem may be reversible.

The prefrontal cortex is a vulnerable area for aging humans and primates. In this study the neuro-electrical activity recorded a slowing of the firing rate of neurons in the aging animals, even though neurons in other areas of the brain still react normally.

The study also found that medication taken for high blood pressure in adults, such as guanfacine, helped to improve prefrontal cortex neuron firing rates in the older monkeys. By delivering guanfacine to the brain, neurons in the older monkeys reacted the same as those of younger monkeys.

Although animal studies cannot always be carried over to humans, there are clinical studies underway currently with a promising compound to try to produce the same results. This could provide the keys to changes that occur when we age are specific, and could be reversed.

Maintaining memory fitness in older adults, in order to maintain the quality of life and live independently needs to continue to be addressed. In the meantime, maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise regime, and working with memory training experts to learn new memory techniques – as well as working puzzles and doing brain games and exercises, are still viable ways to enhance memory and delay age-related memory problems.


Sources: – Age-Related Memory Loss Reversed in Animal Study: