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Even old brains can stay healthy, says Stanford neurologist

This is the fourth installment of our Biomed Bites series, a weekly feature that highlights some of Stanford's most compelling research and introduces readers to innovative scientists from a variety of disciplines. 

Aged brains aren't quite as agile as they once were -- just take it from my nearly 91-year-old grandmother, who misplaces most everything, then spends hours hunting for things, giggling all the while.

She's fortunate. Her memory loss is minor and met with humor. But memory loss, and its accompanying symptoms, devastate millions of families annually who watch their loved ones slip away. That's why I'm rooting for Stanford neurologist Victor Henderson, MD. Henderson and his team works to decipher the neural changes that underlie both normal aging and what he calls "dementing disorders" such as Alzheimer's disease.

Here's Henderson, in the video above: "Our research is focused on risk factor identification related to cognitive aging and disorders like Alzheimer's disease and devising intervention based on the risk factors we've identified."

Turns out exposure to both synthetic and natural hormones such as estrogen can affect the brain, as can exercise. And here's the part I like best:

The findings that we've had and the findings we hope to make in the future have important implications for ways that people might reduce the risk of developing dementing disorders and might be able to maintain cognitive health until late old age.

Here's hoping that Henderson hits a homer.

Learn more about Stanford Medicine's Biomedical Innovation Initiative and about other faculty leaders who are driving forward biomedical innovation here.

Previously: Discover the rhythms of life with a Stanford biologistStudying the drivers of metastasis to combat cancer and Studying the link between post-menopausual hormones, cognition and mood

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