A new study contends that cognitive decline in adults begins earlier than previously thought, with signs of decline beginning around the age of 45 instead of around 60 as other studies had initially concluded.

The study, led by researchers from the French research institute INSERM and the University College London, was part of the Whitehall II cohort study and extracted medical data for 5,198 men and 2,192 women between the ages of 45 and 70. The participants were monitored over a 10-year period. During this time, the participants’ cognitive functions were tested on three different occasions, assessing each individual’s memory, vocabulary, reasoning and verbal fluency.

The results concluded that, aside from the vocabulary tests, an individual’s cognitive performance declines with age and only continues to get more rapid as that person’s age increases.

According to a press release, “The decline is significant in each age group. For example, during the period studied, reasoning scores decreased by 3.6% for men aged between 45 and 49, and 9.6% for those aged between 65 and 70. The corresponding figures for women stood at 3.6% and 7.4% respectively.”

“Determining the age at which cognitive decline begins is important since behavioral or pharmacological interventions designed to change cognitive aging trajectories are likely to be more effective if they are applied from the onset of decline,” said researcher Archana Singh-Manoux. “As life expectancy continues to increase, understanding the correlation between cognitive decline and age is one of the challenges of the 21st century.”

Source: EurekAlert

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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