The ol' memory banks tend to slip a little as we get older. No surprise there. It's so common that scientists have long believed some memory loss is just a normal part of aging -- perhaps even pre-programmed into our brains' lifecycle.
But new research from Rush University Medical Center suggests something different -- that even mild cognitive decline seems to be connected to full-blown dementia. Rush's Robert Wilson led a project as part of the Religious Orders Study examining 354 brains that came from Catholic nuns, monks and priests. They found that gradual memory loss was closely associated with so-called tau tangles in the brain -- one of the pathologies that characterize Alzheimer's disease. Here's our news story on the finding, and above is an extended interview with Wilson.
How you take the findings depends a lot on how you think about these issues connected with decline, dementia and death.