Blame your genes for your ageing brain

Washington: Researchers have showed that the decline in brain function in normal aging is influenced by genes.

Senior author John Blangero, Ph.D., a Texas Biomed geneticist, said that identification of genes associated with brain aging should improve our understanding of the biological processes that govern normal age-related decline.

In large pedigrees including 1,129 people aged 18 to 83, the scientists documented profound aging effects from young adulthood to old age, on neurocognitive ability and brain white matter measures. White matter actively affects how the brain learns and functions.

Genetic material shared amongst biological relatives appears to predict the observed changes in brain function with age.

Blangero said that the use of large human pedigrees provides a powerful resource for measuring how genetic factors change with age.

By applying a sophisticated analysis, the scientists demonstrated a heritable basis for neurocognitive deterioration with age that could be attributed to genetic factors. Similarly, decreasing white matter integrity with age was influenced by genes.

The investigators further demonstrated that different sets of genes are responsible for these two biological aging processes.