Monday 01 September, 2014

Stress may accelerate memory decline as you age

Published On: Wed, Jun 18th, 2014 | Neurobiology | By BioNews

Avoid undue stress in life as it may accelerate age-related changes in your brain.

Researchers have found that aged rats with high levels of the stress hormone corticosterone (similar to the human stress hormone cortisol) showed structural changes in the brain and short-term memory deficits.

“Research suggests that how the body responds to stress may be one of the factors influencing how the brain ages,” said Jason J. Radley from the University of Iowa.

In the current study appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience, the team measured the amount of stress hormone corticosterone in the blood of young and old rats.

They examined cells in the prefrontal cortex — a region of the brain involved in short-term memory.

The researchers found that older animals with high levels of the stress hormone had fewer connections between prefrontal cortex cells than the older animals with lower levels of the hormone.

In contrast, prefrontal cortex cells appeared similar in younger animals regardless of stress hormone levels.

“Stress may act as a pacemaker of ageing in this key brain region,” said Stanford University’s professor Robert Sapolsky who was not involved with this study.

“The study suggests that the effects of these stress hormones on the brain may be much more widespread than we previously thought,” Radley concluded.

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