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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 36-43

Recent advances in the understanding of cognitive decline among the elderly

Department of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Sciences, McMaster's University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Vinod Kumar Gangolli
Department of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Sciences, McMaster's University, Hamilton, Ontario
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2348-9995.181914

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Age-associated cognitive decline or normal (nonpathological, normative, usual) cognitive aging has been found to be an inevitable part of increased age in humans and differs in extent among individuals. The determinants of the differences in age-related cognitive decline are not fully understood. Progress in the field is taking place across many areas of biomedical and psychosocial sciences. [1] The phenotype of normal cognitive aging is well-described. Some mental capabilities are well-maintained into old age. From early adulthood, there are declines in mental domains such as processing speed, reasoning, memory, and executive functions, some of which are underpinned by a decline in a general cognitive factor. There are contributions to understanding individual differences in normal cognitive aging from genetics, general health, and medical disorders such as atherosclerotic disease, biological processes such as inflammation, neurobiological changes, diet, and lifestyle. Many of the effect sizes are small; some are poorly replicated and in some cases, there is a possibility of reverse causation, with prior cognitive ability causing the supposed "cause" of cognitive ability in old age. [1] Genome-wide scans are a likely source to establish genetic contributions. The role of vascular factors in cognitive aging is increasingly studied and understood. The same applies to diet, biomarkers such as inflammation, and lifestyle factors such as exercise. There are marked advances in brain imaging, with better in vivo studies of brain correlates of cognitive changes. There is growing appreciation that factors affecting general bodily aging also influence cognitive functions in old age. [1]

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