Targeted lifestyle changes could delay memory loss


Everyone ages, but no two people will age in the same way. Some people will remain cognitively alert as they age, while others will display dramatic memory loss.

Experts do not know precisely why this occurs, but new research suggests it relates to a genetic variation in so-called nutrient-sensing pathways. These are molecular interactions that depend on the levels of nutrients people consume.
The study, published in Communications Biology, indicates that lifestyle changes based on an individual’s genetic makeup could help to delay memory loss.

The study focused on neural stem cells (NSCs). These are a group of cells located in the hippocampus, which is a center for memory in the brain. These cells divide continually to make more cells, and maintaining them is essential for memory.

Nutrient sensing pathways respond to lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, and help to promote changes in cell behavior. These pathways, therefore, provide a molecular connection between lifestyle and memory and might explain why aging affects people’s memory differently.

To study this in more detail, the researchers analyzed a combination of laboratory data and human data on memory, diet, and activity level.

They applied an exciting approach, which uses laboratory findings to inform the analysis of human data. Known as back-translation, it allows for a more targeted approach.

“We believe this to be a useful and unbiased approach to investigate healthy aging while minimizing the translational gap, which often affects in vitro studies,” the researchers explain.