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Rising Blood Sugar May Harm the Aging Brain
Date:12/30/2008

erent mechanisms are at work in each disorder.

The findings were confirmed in animal tests.

"The paper identifies an etiology [cause] for normal age-related memory decline," Small explained. "Elevations in blood glucose levels differentially target the dentate gyrus part of the hippocampus implicated in aging and, as we age, we develop a slight but gradually worsening difficulty in handling blood sugar levels."

That difficulty coincides with the beginning of loss of cognitive function, Small added.

"In my opinion, that's an interesting hypothesis and needs to be studied -- that exercise helps improve cognitive functioning through that mechanism, but I think there are other mechanisms as well," said Bryan Freilich, a clinical neuropsychologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Mark Mapstone, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said: "If these findings are replicated and confirmed, I think the implications could be very important, specifically, that maintaining optimal blood sugar levels throughout aging is a feasible way to [slow or prevent] cognitive decline. It goes beyond diabetes to look at people who don't have diabetes. The implication is even if you don't have a clinical condition of diabetes, that you can still do something about cognitive aging."

More information

For more on healthy aging, visit the U.S. National Institute on Aging.



SOURCES: Scott Small, M.D., associate professor, neurology, Sergievsky Center and Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City; Bryan Freilich, Psy.D., clinical neuropsychologist, Montefiore Medical Center, and assistant professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Mark
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