07 October 2008

Brain volume tied to memory

Occasionally forget an appointment or a friend's name? Then you may have a loss of brain volume, a new study suggests.

Occasionally forget an appointment or a friend's name? Then you may have a loss of brain volume, a new study suggests.

Researchers scanned the brains of almost 500 people reporting such momentary forgetfulness and found that the size of their hippocampus - an area of the brain important for memory and one of the first areas damaged by Alzheimer's disease - was a few fractions of a millimetre smaller than people without such lapses.

The study was expected to be published in the October 7 issue of the journal Neurology.

"These occasional, subjective memory complaints could be the earliest sign of problems with memory and thinking skills, and we were able to discover that these subjective memory complaints were linked to smaller brain volumes," study author Dr Frank-Erik de Leeuw, a neurologist and clinical epidemiologist with Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, in the Netherlands, said in an American Academy of Neurology news release.

Not a sign of dementia
Most of the study participants reported having occasional memory or thinking problems. These subjective memory problems, which don't show up on regular tests of memory and thinking skills, are not considered signs of early dementia.

"To further strengthen the possible connection between the subjective memory complaints, size of hippocampus and the development of Alzheimer's disease in all of the participants will be investigated again within the coming years," de Leeuw said. – (HealthDayNews)

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