We just reported of elderly individuals being as fast as younger kids in terms of brain tasks. This study by scientists at the American Academy of Neurology has clued in on why some older people suffer from memory loss.

The team stumbled upon something known as silent strokes or minute spots of dead brain cells that are incident in about 1 out of 4 senior citizens. The team suspected that these spots could be a major cause of memory loss observed in elderly individuals.

“The new aspect of this study of memory loss in the elderly is that it examines silent strokes and hippocampal shrinkage simultaneously,” commented study author Adam M. Brickman, PhD, of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

As part of the study, around 658 persons in the age-group 65 and older and devoid of any signs of dementia underwent MRI scanning of their brains. The group was also exposed to trials that gauged memory capabilities, language, swiftness of information processed and visual comprehension.

According to the findings, approximately 174 subjects seemingly had silent strokes. Also, those in the latter group were the people who fared badly in memory tests as compared to those who did not have silent strokes. This effect was regardless of the hippocampus’ small size in the brain, which is the portion associated with memory and learning.

The investigators concluded that since silent strokes and volume of the hippocampus came forward as risk factors for memory loss, the study also adds weight to stroke prohibition programs to ward off memory difficulties. The observations could eventually lead to development of new therapies for diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The study is published in the journal, Neurology.