Getting older is usually accompanied by difficulty in remembering names, dates and objects we just had in our hand. “Now what was I going to do here?”. Not alarming but sometimes certainly a nuisance.
Harvard researcher blame the degradation of white matter in our brains with age. White matter is one of the three main solid components of the central nervous system designated by color. The other two are gray matter and substantia nigra. It is composed of myelinated nerve cell processes, or axons, which connect various gray matter areas (the locations of nerve cell bodies) of the brain to each other and carry nerve impulses between neurons. According to the researcher degradation of the white matter causes disrupted communication between brain regions and memory deficits.
But what is it that actually causes memory and other cognitive abilities to go soft with senescence? Previous research has shown that bundles of axons (tubular projections sent out by neurons to signal other nerve cells) wither over time. These conduits, collectively referred to as white matter, help connect different regions of the brain to allow for proper information processing.
Now, researchers have found that these white matter pathways erode as we age, impairing communication or “cross talk” between different brain areas.
For a description of the research please visit Scientific American, Partial Recall: Why Memory Fades with Age.