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Subunits to blame for memory loss in old age
THURSDAY, AUGUST 08, 2013 10:01 AM

Subunits to blame for memory loss in old age As individuals get older, simple mistakes tend to become more common. One day, a pair of eyeglasses go missing, and the next, car keys vanish. Unfortunately, this forgetfulness is just part of old age, partially because of the GluN2B subunits in the brain's NMDA receptors, according to new research from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

Researchers have found that the subunits help strengthen memory. The only problem is that people begin losing them at birth and continue to do so well into old age. For this reason, individuals' memory skills tend to decline at a faster rate once they hit the age of 40. Older adults may see just how true this is if they sit for an IQ test.

The somewhat good news for older adults is that the loss of these subunits is normal. These individuals still have the ability to learn new things, but it becomes more of a challenge as fewer messages get through to the brain. Still, there may be hope.

"These are biological processes, and once we fully understand what is going on, we may be able to slow or prevent it," said Kathy Magnusson, a neuroscientist in the University's Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, and professor in the Linus Pauling Institute. "There may be ways to influence it with diet, health habits, continued mental activity or even drugs."

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