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Gene makes some pilots get rusty faster

Common variant affects pace of age-related decline in performance on skilled tasks

5:26pm, October 25, 2011

A genetic variant that makes small tweaks in an important brain protein may cause aging to hit some people’s brains harder than others.

Pilots’ performance on a flight simulator test generally declines slightly with age. But a new study shows that pilots with a particular version of a gene called BDNF have a faster drop than others. Researchers also observed a decline in the size of an important learning and memory center in the brains of those with the variant, Ahmad Salehi of the Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University, and colleagues report online O

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