Cognitive decline evident by middle age
Adverse cognitive outcomes, such as dementia, are thought to be the result of long-term deterioration that occurs over 20-30 years. New evidence shows that cognitive decline can be detected in people as young as 45-49 years.
Ten-year cognitive decline was assessed from longitudinal data in 7,390 participants aged 45-70 years at enrolment. Cognitive testing was done on three occasions throughout the 10-year period, using a cognitive test battery that comprised measurements of memory, reasoning, vocabulary and phonemic and semantic fluency. A decline in average performance was seen in all cognitive domains except vocabulary in all age categories (45-49 years, 50-54 years, 55-59 years, 55-59 years, 60-64 years and 65-70 years).
Future research needs to identify the determinants of cognitive decline (particularly behavioural or cardiovascular risk factors), assess the extent to which cognitive trajectories are modifiable, and determine at which age interventions are likely to provide most benefit.
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