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Brain Aging Linked to Sleep-Related Memory Decline - NYTimes.com

Memory got you down?  Maybe it's more a function of sleep than aging, and if you're over 40, perhaps there's even more to consider. "Who was that actor, again?  You know the guy who appeared with Diane Keaton in Annie Hall....so neurotic... Remember that time when...."


Scientists (and most semi-observant humans) have know for centuries that aging diminishes the ability to remember new things, the names of celebrities, and which stories we are constantly repeating. My own brain, 40, gave my wife these clues when I couldn't think of Mel Gibson's name last week: You know, Australian guy. Braveheart. In those cop movies... Why are you looking at me like that?


I wasn't hung-over or distracted or anything I could use as a valid excuse, but, maybe, I wasn't getting enough sleep?

This New York Times story is fascinating. It reveals the results of a study that show the links connecting aging, sleep and memory. Here are a few key excerpts, but if you have time, read the entire thing. If you are over 40, read it twice! Then get a good night’s sleep…

“The report, posted online on Sunday by the journal Nature Neuroscience, suggests that structural brain changes occurring naturally over time interfere with sleep quality, which in turn blunts the ability to store memories for the long term.

Previous research had found that the prefrontal cortex, the brain region behind the forehead, tends to lose volume with age, and that part of this region helps sustain quality sleep, which is critical to consolidating new memories. But the new experiment, led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, is the first to directly link structural changes with sleep-related memory problems.

The findings suggest that one way to slow memory decline in aging adults is to improve sleep, specifically the so-called slow-wave phase, which constitutes about a quarter of a normal night’s slumber.”

via Brain Aging Linked to Sleep-Related Memory Decline - NYTimes.com.