Epigenetics and Cognitive Aging

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Science  07 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5979, pp. 701-702
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189968

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Cognitive decline, especially in memory capacity, is a normal part of aging (1). Indeed, the painful reality is that aging-related cognitive decline likely begins when one is in their late 40s. This deterioration is particularly pronounced in declarative memory—the ability to recall facts and experiences—and has been associated with aberrant changes in gene expression in the brain's hippocampus and frontal lobe. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these changes in gene regulation are not currently known (2, 3). On page 753 of this issue, Peleg et al. (4) bolster an emerging hypothesis that changes in the epigenetic modification of chromatin in the adult central nervous system drive cognitive decline.