REPORT: As Younger Generations’ Brains Get Larger, The Risk Of Dementia May Decline

( – Humans evolve constantly as time passes. That’s evident in young people and the size of their brains. A new study claims they might be at a lower risk for dementia.

Researchers from the University of California Davis Health recently published a study in the journal JAMA Neurology that shows the rate of Alzheimer’s disease has decreased. Neurologist Charles DeCarli led the team of researchers and analyzed brain MRI data collected by researchers in the Framingham Heart Study. That’s a community-based study launched in 1948 to assess patterns of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, across America.

The Framingham researchers collected 3,226 MRI scans on participants in the study born between the 1930s and 1970s. The scans were done between 1999 and 2019. DeCarli’s team at UC Davis analyzed those scans and noticed that there was a gradual increase in brain structures from those born in the 1930s to those born in the 1970s. For instance, brain volume increased by an average of 6.6%, and the surface area grew by 15% for those born in the 1970s.

DeCarli couldn’t explain why the brain size of the younger participants was so much larger. He said it was likely a combination of genetics and external influences like “health, social, cultural, and educational factors.”

The neurologist said the bigger brains could “reflect improved brain development and improved brain health.” Further, those larger brains could “buffer the late-life effects of age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and related dementias.”

The study could prove to be a step in solving the mystery of why the rates of dementia diseases, like Alzheimer’s, have decreased. Since the 1970s, Alzheimer’s occurrence has fallen by 20%. While that’s promising, in 2021, it was the fifth-leading cause of death for people age 65 and older. Almost 7 million Americans will be living with the disease in 2024. That number is expected to rise to 13 million by 2050.

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