Researchers Investigate Early-Life Memory with Alzheimer’s Risk

Adolescents with lesser abilities linked to higher risk

A recent study indicates a person’s memory skills and other cognitive abilities early in life may be linked to the risk for Alzheimer’s disease as that person ages.

In a cohort study of 43,014 men and 42,749 women, lower adolescent memory for words, in women, and lower mechanical reasoning, in men, were associated with higher odds of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders in later life.

Researchers are interpreting this study as evidence that low performance on certain specific measures of cognitive ability may indicate future risk of Alzheimer disease and related disorders as early as adolescence.

“Low early-life cognitive ability is a potential early marker of dementia risk in later life,” wrote the researchers. “Previous studies use only global measures of general intelligence and/or study this relationship in gender-specific samples. The contribution of early-life performance on specific cognitive abilities, such as language, reasoning, and visualization aptitudes, to indicating future dementia risk is unknown.”

The study was led by Alison R. Huang, MPH, of the American Institutes for Research.


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