People may grow wiser with age, but they don’t grow smarter. Many of our mental abilities decline after midlife, and now researchers say that they’ve fingered a culprit. A study presented here last week at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science points to microbleeding in the brain caused by stiffening arteries. The finding may lead to new therapies to combat senior moments.
This isn’t the first time that microbleeds have been suspected as a cause of cognitive decline. “We have known [about them] for some time thanks to neuroimaging studies,” says Matthew Pase, a psychology Ph.D. student at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. The brains of older people are sometimes peppered with dark splotches where blood vessels have burst and created tiny dead zones of tissue. How important these microbleeds are to cognitive decline, and what causes them, have remained open questions, however.
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