June 3, 2013 —
Science Daily/Association for Psychological Science
Eye exam. The width of blood vessels in the retina, located at the back of the eye, may indicate brain health years before the onset of dementia and other deficits.
Credit: © lightpoet / Fotolia
The width of blood vessels in the retina, located at the back of the eye, may indicate brain health years before the onset of dementia and other deficits, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Research shows that younger people who score low on intelligence tests, such as IQ, tend to be at higher risk for poorer health and shorter lifespan, but factors like socioeconomic status and health behaviors don't fully account for the relationship.
The findings suggest that the processes linking vascular health and cognitive functioning begin much earlier than previously assumed, years before the onset of dementia and other age-related declines in brain functioning.
"Digital retinal imaging is a tool that is being used today mainly by eye doctors to study diseases of the eye," Shalev notes. "But our initial findings indicate that it may be a useful investigative tool for psychological scientists who want to study the link between intelligence and health across the lifespan."