New Cause of Cognitive Decline Reported

NEW YORK, June 2 (UPI) — U.S. medical investigators say they’ve found a new cause of cognitive decline among older people.

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine said they discovered certain types of specializations on nerve cells called “spines” are depleted as a person ages, causing cognitive decline in the part of the brain that mediates the highest levels of learning.

The scientists said the nerve cell spines receive an important class of synapses that are involved with the process of learning. The researchers said their discovery provides the medical community with a new therapeutic target to help prevent such a loss of function.

“We know that when we age, we lose certain spines, but we did not know which ones and how their loss impacted cognition,” said Professor John Morrison, who led the study with Adjunct Professor Dani Dumitriu and Assistant Professor Jiandong Hao. “This study shows which spines are lost and what their impact is on brain function, giving us a foundation to research treatment interventions to protect against age-related cognitive decline.”

The research is reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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