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Mental Decline Can Start at 45, Study Finds
Date:1/6/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Sorry, Boomers, but a new study suggests that memory, reasoning and comprehension can start to slip as early as age 45.

This finding runs counter to conventional wisdom that mental decline doesn't begin before 60, the researchers added.

"Cognitive function in normal, healthy adults begins to decline earlier than previously thought," said study author Archana Singh-Manoux.

"It is widely believed that cognitive ability does not decline before the age of 60. We were able to show robust cognitive decline even in individuals aged 45 to 49 years," added Singh-Manoux, research director at INSERM's Center for Research in Epidemiology & Population Health at the Paul-Brousse Hospital in Paris.

These findings should be put in context of the link between cognitive function and the dementia, Singh-Manoux said.

"Previous research shows small differences in cognitive performance in earlier life to predict larger differences in risk of dementia in later life," she said.

Understanding cognitive aging might enable early identification of those at risk for dementia, Singh-Manoux said.

The report was published in the Jan. 5 issue of BMJ.

For the study, Singh-Manoux and colleagues collected data on nearly 5,200 men and 2,200 women who took part in the Whitehall II cohort study. The study, which began in 1985, followed British civil servants from the age of 45 to 70.

Over 10 years, starting in 1997, the participants' cognitive function was tested three times. The researchers assessed memory, vocabulary, hearing and vision.

Singh-Manoux's group found that over time, test scores for memory, reasoning and vocabulary skills all dropped. The decline was faster among the older participants, they added.

Among men aged 45 to 49, reasoning skills declined by nearly 4 percent, and for those aged 65 to 70 those
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