Is It My Parents’ Fault If I’m Losing My Memory?

Is it my parents’ fault if I’m losing my memory? It may be. Research shows that there is a genetic link between your genes, the shrinkage of a key brain area called the hippocampus, and your vulnerability to memory loss.

Is it my parents' fault if I'm losing my memory?

Is it my parents' fault if I'm losing my memory?

Is It My Parents’ Fault If I’m Losing My Memory?

The results of the research are described in ScienceDaily, but here are the key findings.

The first study, based on a genetic analysis of more than 9,000 people, has found that certain versions of four genes may speed shrinkage of a brain region involved in making new memories. The brain area, known as the hippocampus, normally shrinks with age, but if the process speeds up, it could increase vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease, the research suggests.

Apparently bigger is better where it concerns the hippocampus.

The gene variants identified in the first study do not cause Alzheimer’s, but they may rob the hippocampus of a kind of “reserve” against the disease, which is known to cause cell destruction and dramatic shrinkage of this key brain site. The result is severe loss of memory and cognitive ability.

Scientists calculated that hippocampus shrinkage in people with these gene variants accelerates by about four years on average. The risk of Alzheimer’s doubles every five years beginning at age 65, so a person of that age would face almost twice the Alzheimer’s risk if he or she had these versions of the gene.

Looked at another way, if a person with one of these variants did get Alzheimer’s, the disease would attack an already compromised hippocampus and so would lead to a more severe condition at a younger age than otherwise, the research suggests.

“This is definitely a case of ‘bigger is better,’” said DeCarli. “We already know that Alzheimer’s disease causes much of its damage by shrinking hippocampus volume. If someone loses a greater-than-average amount of volume due to the gene variants we’ve identified, the hippocampus is more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.”

Why the aging hippocampus normally decreases in volume is unclear.

If you’re up to reading a rather scientific article, you can do so here.

Many of us worry about the possibility of future memory loss, especially when we look at our family members. Is it my parents’ fault if I’m losing my memory? It could very well be.

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