Age-related Forgetfulness May be Reversible

October 11, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. distinct [dih-STINGKT] (adj.) – noticeably different or separate from another kind
Example: The doctor assures the patient that his condition is distinct from the dreaded disease.
2. trigger [TRIG-er] (v.) – to initiate or make something happen
Example: Drug use may trigger memory loss.

3. suspect [suh-SPEKT] (v.) – to believe that one thing caused something undesirable
Example: The doctors suspected the rotten egg to be the cause of his stomach ailments.

4. maze [meyz] (n.) – a confusing and complicated network of passage ways
Example: The rat finds it difficult to find a way out in the maze.

5. reversible [ri-VUR-suh-buh l] (adj.) – can change back to the original condition
Example: The doctor assured the patient not to worry because the disease is reversible.


Read the text below.

Scientists recently found a clue that may help search for the cause of memory problems related to age.

The recent study found evidence proving that memory loss is a distinct condition from pre-Alzheimer's and that it may be treatable.

The scientists from Columbia University Medical Center studied the brains of young and old people, who died without any signs of brain disease. They found that when people get old, a certain gene in the dentate gyrus, part of the hippocampus [hip-uh-KAM-puh s] where Alzheimer's is triggered, starts producing less of an important protein.

The experts suspect that the protein called RbAp48 affects memory loss. To prove the protein’s effects, scientists experimented on rats, which like humans also become forgetful as they age.

Young rats, whose RbAp48 levels were cut, performed badly in mazes and memory tasks just like the old mice do. But what's really interesting is that old mice whose proteins were given a boost performed as well as the youngsters did. This result suggested that memory loss might be reversible.

However, Dr. Molly Wagster said the research is still in its early stages. Proving this claim may still need a lot of additional research that could take years to complete, she added.

On the other hand, the good news is that the researchers have already found that exercise improves the functions of the dentate gyrus. They are now studying whether nutrition can also affect it.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that a cure for age-related memory loss can really be found in the future? Please explain your answer.
·         Why is it important to find a cure for age-related memory loss?

Discussion B

·         How do you think a person can keep his/her memory sharp?
·         What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a good memory? Please explain your answer.


October 11, 2013