Posted on Jan 16, 2012, 6 a.m.
Small spots of dead brain cells may be a significant and underidentified cause of memory loss in older adults.
“Silent strokes” – small spots of dead brain cells – are found in about one out of four older adults. Adam M. Brickman, from Columbia University Medical Center (New York, USA), and colleagues studied 658 people, ages 65 years and older, who did not exhibit dementia. The team administered MRI brain scans, and also assessed the subjects for memory, language, speed at processing information and visual perception. A total of 174 of the participants had silent strokes, and those subjects scored worse on memory tests. Whereas the team observed that a presence of brain infarcts associated with a smaller hippocampus, and that a smaller hippocampus volume was associated with poorer memory, they found that “brain infarcts were associated with poorer memory and cognitive performance in all other domains, which was independent of hippocampus volume.”
S. Blum, J.A. Luchsinger, J.J. Manly, N. Schupf, Y. Stern, A.M. Brickman, et al. “Memory after silent stroke: Hippocampus and infarcts both matter.” Neurology, January 3, 2012; 78:38-46.