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Brain function can slow by age 45

Published on 06 January 2012 11:30 AM

Brain functioning can start to slow down at the age of 45, much earlier than previously thought, according to research by European scientists.

Experts at The Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in France, and University College London, have carried out studies which they say reveal the brain's memory capacity, reasoning and comprehension can be affected when people reach their mid-40s.

According to previous research, people's brains begin processing thoughts in a different way in their 60s.

The research involved more than 7,000 civil servants (some serving, some retired) being studied over a 10-year period, who were aged between 45 and 70 at the start of the cognitive testing in the period between 1997 and 1999.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, show that in men, there was a 3.6% decline in reasoning after 10 years for those aged 45 to 49 at the beginning of the study. and 9.6% for those in the 65 to 70 age bracket.

In women, the respective figures were 3.6% and 7.4%.

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, commented: 'Although this study didn't look at dementia, it would be important to follow up these participants to see which people go on to develop the condition.

'It's important to note that the group studied here was not representative of the population as a whole, and it would be helpful to see similar studies carried out in a wider sample.

'These findings give us all an extra reason to stick to our New Year's resolutions. Although we don't yet have a sure-fire way to prevent dementia, we do know that simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check, can all reduce the risk.'

Copyright Press Association 2012

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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