Researchers from the Netherlands have challenged the idea that the brains of healthy older adults are smaller than those of younger people. Using data from the long-term Maastricht Aging Study they compared 35 people who performed well on cognitive tests early in the study and who stayed free of dementia with 30 people who showed substantial cognitive decline but who were still free of dementia. The 30 people who declined cognitively over the course of the study showed significant changes in the hippocampus and parahippocampal areas and in the frontal and cingulate cortices. However, those whose cognition did not change over the course of the study showed no loss of grey matter. The study concluded that previous research pointing to brain shrinkage in older people had failed to take into account cognitive problems which might not happen in everyone and that brain shrinkage might not necessarily be an inevitable part of the ageing process.
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