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Memory loss tied to stress....

Some order people remain quite, sharp while other, seemingly healthy individuals become ever more forgetful with age. Stress can be the cause, say Canadian psychiatrists. High amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone made by the body, correlate with subtle memory and attention problems, report Michael J. Meaney and his colleagues at McGill University in Montreal.

Once a year for the past five years, the McGill team has checked the concentration of the streets hormone in the blood of 130 healthy volunteers age 55 to 87. Also, a psychiatrist who does not know the hormone status has tested the cognitive skills of a subset of these volunteers.

"We now realize that stress hormones are a double-edged sword," concludes Meaney. People with high concentrations of cortisol in the blood remember what they learned long ago but forget things they are just told, says Sonia Lupien of McGill. This subtle memory loss resembles what occurs when a part of the brain called the hippocampus is damaged, she adds.
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Title Annotation:high levels of cortisol can cause memory problems
Author:Pennisi, Elizabeth
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 20, 1993
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