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Mild Drinking Sharpens Episodic Memory in Elderly People: Study

Those aged 60 and above and not suffering from dementia can afford to consume a drink or two that could sharpen their  memory, going by new research.

Light alcohol consumption during late in life is associated with higher episodic memory or the ability to recall memories of events as it is linked with a larger volume in the hippocampus, a brain region critical for episodic memory.

“Adults who are able to continue consuming alcohol into old age are healthier, and, therefore, have higher cognition and larger regional brain volumes, than people who had to decrease their alcohol consumption due to unfavourable health outcomes,” said Brian Downer from the University of Texas’ medical branch at Galveston in the US, who led the team to study data from more than 660 patients in the Framingham Heart Study.

These patients were part of a survey to assess their alcohol consumption and demographics, a battery of neuropsychological assessments, the presence or absence of the genetic Alzheimer’s disease risk factor APOE e4 and MRIs of their brains.

The University of Texas researchers found that light and moderate alcohol consumption in older people is associated with higher episodic memory and is linked with larger hippocampal brain volume. “Amount of alcohol consumption had no impact on executive function or overall mental ability,” Downer said.

Findings from animal studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption may contribute to preserved hippocampal volume by promoting generation of new nerve cells in the hippocampus. The findings are published in detail in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias.


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