Hundreds of genes have been linked with brain aging and impaired learning and memory, producing a new model of aging and cognitive impairment that suggests midlife changes to gene activity in the brain affect how it works later in life.

The research, by scientists at the University of Kentucky, used powerful new gene microarray technology to match the activity of 146 rat genes with behavioral and cognitive performance over time.

Reported in the May 2003 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, the research suggests that changes in gene activity in young adult brains set off cellular or biological changes that affect cognitive function later in life.

The study also shows that inflammation, oxidative stress, declines in energy metabolism in cells and changes in the activity of neurons in the brain and their ability to make new connections may be affected by gene activity.
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