Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Memory Starts To Decline In Our Mid-20s

Date:
August 14, 2001
Source:
University Of Michigan
Summary:
People in their 20s don't usually complain about forgetting names or phone numbers, or having trouble learning something new. But that's when memory and mental energy first start to decline, according to psychologist Denise Park, who directs the Center for Aging and Cognition at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR).

ANN ARBOR --- People in their 20s don't usually complain about forgetting names or phone numbers, or having trouble learning something new. But that's when memory and mental energy first start to decline, according to psychologist Denise Park, who directs the Center for Aging and Cognition at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR).

In studies of more than 350 men and women between the ages of 20 and 90, to be presented Aug. 24 in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Park found that mental aging is a slippery slope, with continuous declines in processing power starting as soon as our 20s.

This gradual reduction in cognitive capital is not really noticeable until the loss is substantial enough to affect everyday activities. "Younger adults in their 20s and 30s notice no losses at all, even though they are declining at the same rate as people in their 60s and 70s, because they have more capital than they need," says Park, who appears in "The Secret Life of the Brain," a new PBS series funded by the National Science Foundation.

By the time people are in their mid-60s, Park says, the continuous decreases in cognitive abilities may become noticeable. Just when most people are becoming more frequent consumers of medical services, they begin to notice that they are having more trouble remembering and learning new information.

Older people are also much more susceptible to memory distortions such as the "illusion of truth" and the "paradox of repeated denial." Older men and women are more likely to recall false information as being true, Park explains, and the more warnings they hear about a bogus medical claim---that shark cartilage cures arthritis, for example---the more likely they are to believe that the claim is true. The bogus information feels familiar if it has been heard often, and thus it seems true. Younger adults can remember that the information is familiar, but they also remember hearing that it is false.

But there is good news, too. An increase in experience and general knowledge, as measured by vocabulary, compensate for many of the losses, Park has found, with the crossroads coming around the age of 50---traditionally considered the beginning of wisdom.

With a grant from the National Institute on Aging, Park is now using neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study what goes on in the brains of younger and older minds at work. By linking behavioral testing and neuroscience, she is studying what parts of the brain older adults use for different types of mental tasks compared to younger adults, and what patterns of brain activation high-performing older adults show compared to their lower-performing peers.

"Cognitive performance is a direct result of brain activity and brain structure," she says, "much like cardiovascular fitness relates to our ability to exercise and perform physical tasks. Only 40 years ago, we had little understanding of how smoking and cholesterol levels were related to cardiovascular health," Park says. "It's likely that just as diet and exercise help to keep our bodies fit and healthy, we'll find ways to improve the functioning of our aging minds."

For more information on Denise Park's work, including advice on how to keep the aging mind healthy, visit http://www.fathom.com/story/story.jhtml?story_id=122249

Established in 1948, the Institute for Social Research (ISR) is among the world's oldest survey research organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Survey of Consumer Attitudes, the National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China, and South Africa. Visit the ISR Web site at http://www.isr.umich.edu for more information.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan. "Memory Starts To Decline In Our Mid-20s." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010814063231.htm>.
University Of Michigan. (2001, August 14). Memory Starts To Decline In Our Mid-20s. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010814063231.htm
University Of Michigan. "Memory Starts To Decline In Our Mid-20s." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010814063231.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Stroke Signs: Three Hour Deadline

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Sometimes the signs of a stroke are far from easy to recognize. Learn from one young father’s story on the signs of a stroke. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Grain Brain May Be Harming Us

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Could eating carbohydrates be harmful to our brain health? Find out what one neurologist says about changing our diets. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Playground Tales: Learning to Socialize With Autism

Playground Tales: Learning to Socialize With Autism

Ivanhoe (July 31, 2014) Playgrounds are typically great places where kids can have fun while learning how to interact with other kids, but for some kids with autism, they can have the reverse effect. Hear how researchers are trying to change that. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins