When aging hampers memory, some people's brains compensate to stay sharp. Now scientists want to know how those brains make do - in hopes of developing treatments to help everyone else keep up. This is not Alzheimer's disease, but the wear-and-tear of so-called normal aging.
New research is making clear that memory and other brain functions decline to varying degrees even in otherwise healthy people as they age, as anyone who habitually loses car keys probably suspected. The question is how to gird our brains against time's ravages, a question becoming critical as the population grays. If you're 65 today, odds are you'll live to 83. But improving health care means people in their 50s today may live another 40 years. "I don't think we've recognized, as scientists or a society, (that) this is the front-and-center public health issue we face as a nation," Dr. Denise Park, director of the University of Illinois' Center for Healthy Minds, told fellow brain specialists assembled by the government last week.
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