Although the effects may not surface for years, memory starts to decline around age 25. So says a University of Michigan researcher who will present her findings next week at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Psychologist Denise Park studied more than 350 people between the ages of 20 and 90. Noticeable decreases in cognitive ability, she found, were already apparent in subjects in their 20s. "Younger adults in their 20s and 30s notice no losses at all, even though they are declining at the same rate as people in their 60s and 70s, because they have more capital than they need," she explains. Memory decline does become noticeable once patients reach their mid-60s, however, and it begins to affect everyday activities. Increases in experience and general knowledge that accompany age tend to offset the initial losses, Park notes, with the junction occurring around 50 years of age.

Despite the somewhat discouraging nature of her new findings, Park remains optimistic about potential treatments to improve memory. "Its likely that just as diet and exercise help to keep our bodies fit and healthy, well find ways to improve the functioning of our aging minds."