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Neurology. 1999 Apr 22;52(7):1392-6.

Selective decline in memory function among healthy elderly.

Author information

1
Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, Department of Neurology, Taub Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research in the City of New York, NY 10032, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To use longitudinally acquired data to establish whether aging is associated with memory decline.

BACKGROUND:

Memory loss is one of the most frequent complaints among the elderly. Nevertheless, age-related memory decline remains controversial in large part because it has been established with cross-sectional studies.

METHODS:

A total of 212 community-based healthy people were followed prospectively and evaluated annually with a neuropsychological battery testing memory and other cognitive domains. To control for the learning effect-the improvement in test performance associated with repeated exposure-longitudinal performance was compared between two age groups.

RESULTS:

The older age group displayed a relative decline in memory performance with time. In contrast to memory, a relative age-related decline was not observed in tests of language, visuospatial ability, and abstract reasoning. Furthermore, within the memory domain, age-related decline was restricted to a specific aspect of memory, manifesting only in a measure sensitive to the acquisition and early retrieval of new information, and not in a measure of memory retention. This profile of age-related cognitive decline anatomically localizes to the hippocampal formation.

CONCLUSION:

This study establishes age-related memory decline using longitudinal data, and shows that this decline does not occur diffusely across multiple cognitive domains. Both early AD as well as non-AD processes likely contribute to age-related memory decline, and continued follow-up may reveal distinguishing features between these two.

PMID:
10227623
DOI:
10.1212/wnl.52.7.1392
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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