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A protein in the brain could hold the key to reversing the age-related memory loss that causes “senior moments” of forgetfulness, Columbia University researchers report.
Deficiency of a protein called RbAp48 in the hippocampus appears to significantly contribute to the memory loss that creeps up on you as you age, said study co-author Dr. Scott Small, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the university.
This is a distinct process separate from the drastic memory loss that comes with Alzheimer’s disease, Small added. And, he said, the finding should allay fears that normal “senior moments,” like misplacing keys or forgetting an ATM number, are a precursor to dementia.
“It’s been known for a long time that our memory declines just by the normal wear and tear of the aging process,” Small said. “Our study provides compelling evidence that age-related memory loss is a syndrome in its own right, apart from Alzheimer’s.”
The study, published Aug. 28 in the online edition of Science Translational Medicine, used a combination of human and mouse studies to explore the importance of RbAp48 in memory.
Researchers focused on the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is key to memory and is affected by both age-related memory loss and by Alzheimer’s disease. But while Alzheimer’s is attributed to the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain’s neurons, no such thing occurs in people experiencing memory loss due to natural aging. …