Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cognitive Decline Begins In Late 20s, Study Suggests

Date:
March 20, 2009
Source:
University of Virginia
Summary:
A new study indicates that some aspects of peoples' cognitive skills -- such as the ability to make rapid comparisons, remember unrelated information and detect relationships -- peak at about the age of 22, and then begin a slow decline starting around age 27.

A new study indicates that some aspects of peoples' cognitive skills — such as the ability to make rapid comparisons, remember unrelated information and detect relationships — peak at about the age of 22, and then begin a slow decline starting around age 27.

"This research suggests that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy, educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s," said Timothy Salthouse, a University of Virginia professor of psychology and the study's lead investigator.

His findings appear in the current issue of the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Salthouse and his team conducted the study during a seven-year period, working with 2,000 healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 60.

Participants were asked to solve various puzzles, remember words and details from stories, and identify patterns in an assortment of letters and symbols.

Many of the participants in Salthouse's study were tested several times during the course of years, allowing researchers to detect subtle declines in cognitive ability.

Top performances in some of the tests were accomplished at the age of 22. A notable decline in certain measures of abstract reasoning, brain speed and in puzzle-solving became apparent at 27.

Salthouse found that average memory declines can be detected by about age 37. However, accumulated knowledge skills, such as improvement of vocabulary and general knowledge, actually increase at least until the age of 60.

"These patterns suggest that some types of mental flexibility decrease relatively early in adulthood, but that how much knowledge one has, and the effectiveness of integrating it with one's abilities, may increase throughout all of adulthood if there are no pathological diseases," Salthouse said.

However, Salthouse points out that there is a great deal of variance from person to person, and, he added, most people function at a highly effective level well into their final years, even when living a long life.

One of the unique features of this project in the University of Virginia Cognitive Aging Laboratory is that some of the participants return to the laboratory for repeated assessments after intervals of one to seven years.

"By following individuals over time, we gain insight to cognition changes, and may possibly discover ways to alleviate or slow the rate of decline," Salthouse said. "And by better understanding the processes of cognitive impairment, we may become better at predicting the onset of dementias such as Alzheimer's disease."

Salthouse's team also is surveying participants' health and lifestyles to see if certain characteristics, such as social relationships, serve to moderate age-related cognitive changes.

They hope to continue their studies over many more years, with many of the same participants, to gain a long-term understanding of how the brain changes over time.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Virginia. "Cognitive Decline Begins In Late 20s, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320092111.htm>.
University of Virginia. (2009, March 20). Cognitive Decline Begins In Late 20s, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320092111.htm
University of Virginia. "Cognitive Decline Begins In Late 20s, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320092111.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
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