Memory loss among the elderly is lower than what was originally thought. UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country's research found that the capacity to recall specific facts deteriorates with age, but other types of memory do not.
Researcher Alaitz Aizpurua said that the highly widespread belief that memory deteriorates as one approaches old age is not completely true, adding that various pieces of neuro-psychological research and other studies show that cognitive loss starts at the age of 20 but that people hardly notice it because they have sufficient capacity to handle the needs of everyday life.
Aizpurua added that this loss is more perceptible between 45 and 49 and, in general, after the age of 75, approximately. The deterioration, which does not tend to be either uniform or general, takes place in certain memory types more than in others.
In old age, deterioration appears in episodic memory but not in semantic memory. This type of memory (semantic) and procedural memory are maintained (in some cases they even improve) whereas episodic memory in which detailed memories are retained is reduced, noted Aizpurua.
The researchers concluded that an individual, both an adult and a young person, has the capacity to remember information relating to facts in his/her private life in detail. The main difference between older adults and younger adults is as follows: the younger ones remember more episodic details.
The research shows, however, that this difference only occurred in one of the three sections referred to, in the one involving memories of the previous year; in other words, in that of the oldest recollections, asserted Aizpurua. The study appears in journal Consciousness and Cognition.