Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System have found a link between a specific genetic variation and the reduction in intellectual function that affects some men as they age.
According to the investigators behind this research, which appeared online in Translational Psychiatry, the genetic variation was located in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a role in the formation and storage of memories. Airplane pilots who participated in the study and had this variation also experienced an age-related decline in the size of this neurological area.
As the researchers tested 144 experienced pilots, who were at least 40 years of age, over three separate sessions that were each spaced a year apart, they witnessed a decline in performance among those with the genetic variation.
"This gene-associated difference may apply not only to pilots but also to the general public, for example in the ability to operate complex machinery," said Ahmad Salehi, clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford.
Older professionals, such as airline pilots, who are curious to see if their brain is as strong as it was in their youth may want to take an IQ test.