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Brain Aging Impacted by Modifiable Risk Factors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Carla R. Schubert, MS

Researcher,  EpiSense Research Program
Dept. of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
School of Medicine and Public Health
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI  53726-2336 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Mildlife is an important time-period for health later in life and also when declines in sensory and cognitive functions may begin to occur. Hearing, vision and smell impairments have been associated with cognitive impairments in older adults and with worse cognitive function in middle-aged adults.  These associations may be reflecting the close integration of sensory and cognitive systems as both require good brain function.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: In the Beaver Dam Offspring Study (BOSS), researchers combined measures of sensory and cognitive function into one summary measure and evaluated factors associated with this measure of brain function.  There were over 2000 middle-aged and older adults included in this study.  Participants with vascular risk factors such as current smoking, a larger waist, or a history of cardiovascular disease or inflammation, were more likely to have brain aging while those participants who had more years of education or exercised regularly were less likely to have brain aging.   Older participants, those with diabetes, a history of a head injury or reporting depressive symptoms were more likely to develop brain aging over 5 years.  

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Many of the factors associated with brain aging in this study are potentially modifiable.  Improving health and making good lifestyle choices in midlife may help preserve brain health and function later in life.  

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response:  Further studies are needed to validate the novel marker of brain aging used in this study and replicate the findings in other populations. 

Any disclosures?

This work was supported by a grant (R01AG021917 to Karen J. Cruickshanks, PhD) from the National Institute on Aging and an unrestricted grant from Research to Prevent Blindness.  The authors have no conflicts of interest. 


Schubert, C. R., Fischer, M. E., Pinto, A. A., Chen, Y. , Klein, B. E., Klein, R. , Tsai, M. Y., Tweed, T. S. and Cruickshanks, K. J. (2019), Brain Aging in Midlife: The Beaver Dam Offspring Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. doi:10.1111/jgs.15886

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Last Updated on April 13, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD