Research from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, the University of York and Hull York Medical School linked the decline in the short-term memory capabilities that occurs in old age and conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease with a change in synapse activity.
These neural connections constantly shift to facilitate short-term memory and the results of the study revealed that under stressful conditions the synapses grow at an excessive rate and hamper these changes.
"Our work sheds light on how our brain becomes less able to make these changes in neuronal contacts as we age and helps explain the loss of neuronal contacts seen in several neurodegenerative diseases," said co-author Dr Iain Robinson of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry.
Scientists now believe their work will have significant repercussions on treatment of degenerative brain diseases.
The World Health Organization held World Mental Health Day on October 10th to raise awareness and promote investment in mental health.