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Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center link blood sugar to normal cognitive aging
Date:12/29/2008

NEW YORK Maintaining blood sugar levels, even in the absence of disease, may be an important strategy for preserving cognitive health, suggests a study published by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). The study appeared in the December issue of Annals of Neurology.

Senior moments, also dubbed by New York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks as being "hippocampically challenged," are a normal part of aging. Such lapses in memory, according to this new research, could be blamed, at least in part, on rising blood glucose levels as we age. The findings suggest that exercising to improve blood sugar levels could be a way for some people to stave off the normal cognitive decline that comes with age.

"This is news even for people without diabetes since blood glucose levels tend to rise as we grow older. Whether through physical exercise, diet or drugs, our research suggests that improving glucose metabolism could help some of us avert the cognitive slide that occurs in many of us as we age," reported lead investigator Scott A. Small, M.D., associate professor of neurology in the Sergievsky Center and in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center.

Although it is widely known that the early stages of Alzheimer's disease cause damage to the hippocampus, the area of the brain essential for memory and learning, studies have suggested that it is also vulnerable to normal aging. Until now, the underlying causes of age-related hippocampal dysfunction have remained largely unknown.

Previously, using high-resolution brain imaging, Dr. Small and his colleagues discovered that decreasing brain function in one area of the hippocampus, called the dentate gyrus, is a main contributor of normal decline in memory as we age.

In this new study, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the American Diabetes Association and the M
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Contact: Karin Eskenazi
ket2116@columbia.edu
212-305-3900
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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