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Major new study into brain ageing launched in Cambridge

Research efforts to understand the effects of ageing on the brain have been given a major boost following a £5M grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

This large, interdisciplinary research project will study changes in the brain across the adult life-span and their impact on changes in cognitive function. Its main emphasis will be on determining the extent of neural flexibility and the potential for neural reorganisation to preserve cognitive functions.

This project is a collaboration between scientists in the Departments of Experimental Psychology, Public Health and Primary Care, Psychiatry, and Clinical Neurosciences in the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge. The combined research group is called the 'Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience' (Cam-CAN).

Professor Lorraine Tyler (pictured right) of the University of Cambridge is leading the research and said:

"Our mental abilities don't suddenly start to decline as we enter retirement. In fact, many are retained right into our eighties and we are often too quick to attribute normal lapses like forgetfulness to the effects of age."

"Understanding the complexities of how ageing affects the brain will be crucial for older people to be able to live fulfilled lives and contribute fully to society. We hope that this research will not only add to this understanding, but will also have an important impact on how we view the ageing process, as one of change, rather than inevitable deterioration."

The study is unique in recruiting 3000 people aged 18-88 years, who will be drawn from the general population to create a large library of information on how healthy brain ageing affects mental abilities to different degrees. Not only will this help in identifying older people who might be helped by therapies, but also, the team hopes, will provide a lasting resource for future researchers to draw on.

For further information regarding this project please click here.

Posted on 04/10/2010

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