Harvard researchers have found what those of us over forty have suspected for a while – that the brain’s learning and memory genes decline with age, starting in your early forties.
The researchers studied well-preserved brain tissue from 30 people, aged 26 to 106 at the time of death. The changes they found occurred in a wide variety of genes, with functions that range from regulating sleep to metabolizing fat. But most interesting was a marked decline in function among 20 genes involved in learning, memory and the plasticity, or flexibility, of brain function. As the subjects aged, these genes became damaged, reducing their effectiveness. “Some genes begin to decline much earlier than expected, as early as the early 40s,” says senior author Bruce Yanker, a professor of neurology and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Here’s the link to the full Wall St. Journal article. The link should work for a few days.