“We saw differences across race in markers of both neurodegeneration and cerebrovascular disease, but the cerebrovascular disease markers were apparent in midlife,” says study co-author and professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Medical Center Adam M. Brickman, Ph.D. “In White and Latinx people, the age-associated increase in cerebrovascular disease seems to accelerate as people enter older age, but it was already accelerated in African American people in midlife.”
So, why do the researchers believe this is happening? According to Brickman and Columbia University Medical Center postdoctoral neuroscientist and study co-author Indira C. Turney, Ph.D., it isn’t due to genetics. They propose social determinants are to blame, namely racism.
“We know from other literature that [Black Americans] experience more social disadvantages across suboptimal environments, so that is more likely leading to the difference that we’re observing in this population,” says Turney. The repeated exposure to stressors may impact brain health in a big way.