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Memory Loss? Silent Strokes Could Be The Cause, Researchers Say




'Silent strokes' could be the cause of some elderly people's memory loss, a new study finds. The results, published in the journal Neurology, show a link between brain damage and age-associated memory loss.

Adam Brickman, associate professor of Neurology at Columbia University, led a research team which used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the brains of 658 elderly men and women without a history of dementia. The research which was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Charles and Lee Saunders Fellowship, was geared toward understanding the impact that damage to the hippocampus has on age-associated memory loss.

In addition to MRI, participants were given memory, language, processing speed, visuospatial functioning performance tasks. Together these experiments would help scientific investigators get a better grasp on how vascular lesions might affect memory in the aging brain.


Silent Strokes Are Associated With Memory Loss And Impaired Cognition

Researchers found a relationship between brain lesions (evidence of silent strokes) and a smaller hippocampus. Patients with reduced hippocampal volume experienced memory loss and poorer cognition.

Injury to the hippocampus is very serious because this region of the brain is responsible for memory and navigation (ability to remember where you are and where you're going). The hippocampus is responsible for memory recall and the creation of new memories. This is one of the reasons why people who suffer brain damage e.g. Alzheimer's disease, stroke have extreme difficulty remembering things and become lost.

Based on the results of the study, Brickman and his colleagues concluded:"Given that age-associated neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer disease, are defined primarily by impairment in memory, these findings have clinical implications for prevention and for identification of pathogenic factors associated with disease symptomatology."

To learn more about stroke prevention and Alzheimer disease please visit the following websites:



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Article Source

Blum, S., Luchsinger, J., Manly, J., Schupf, N., Stern, Y., Brown, T., DeCarli, C., Small, S., Mayeux, R., & Brickman, A. (2011). Memory after silent stroke: Hippocampus and infarcts both matter Neurology, 78 (1), 38-46 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31823ed0cc


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