Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Forgetfulness Is No Laughing Matter

People Aware of Memory Loss Lose Brain Function Later

WebMD Health News

Sept. 27, 2002 -- Find yourself joking about losing your keys or forgetting where you parked the car? Those little slips may be no laughing matter. A new study suggests that if you think you're losing your memory, you probably will.

Researchers found people over 50 who are aware that they're becoming more forgetful and absent-minded with age were more likely to show a decline in brain function years later.

"We found that several subjective measures, including perceived change in memory ability and frequency of using memory aids -- such as lists and reminders -- predicted a decline in brain function two years later," says researcher Gary Small, MD, director of the Center on Aging at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a news release.

The study was to be presented at the First Annual Dementia Congress in Chicago this weekend.

Researchers studied 39 adults over the age of 50 who had mild age-related memory complaints and tested them on memory performance. They also asked them how well they thought their memory worked. Each of the participants had a brain scan with positron emission tomography (PET) to measure brain activity at the start of the study and two years later.

The study found people who were aware of their memory loss had a significantly greater decline in activity in one of the key memory centers of the brain (the hippocampus) compared to those who had only minimal memory complaints. Previous research has suggested that decreased brain function in this region can predict future memory decline; it also confirms a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Small says self-awareness of memory decline predicted the level of brain activity decline in all patients, regardless of their genetic risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

"The findings suggest that self-awareness of memory ability may be an important factor to consider in assessing mild objective memory losses," says Small.

Researchers say learning more about these mild memory lapses may provide clues about how Alzheimer's develops in its early stages and help identify patients for early treatment to prevent further brain damage. -->

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression