New research shows that brain aging can begin as early as 40 years of age. Research results published in Nature (2004; 4 [24 June], 883–91), a scientific journal, show that damage in brain tissue involved in learning and memory caused by normal stresses of living varies among individuals in the middle-age years.
According to principal investigator Bruce Yankner, a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School, as quoted in the Harvard Gazette, “Our findings raise the exciting possibility that [prescribed] drugs or lifestyle changes in young adults could delay cognitive declines and protect against the onset of brain diseases in later years.” One of the purposes of this research was to determine whether this brain damage increases risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
What is significant is the degree of difference among individuals. Some people in their 50s, 60s and even 90s had much younger-looking brains. Stay tuned for future research to determine whether taking antioxidants, maintaining a healthy weight or remaining physically active can help protect brain tissue and deter aging.