Loss of memory and other cognitive functions in humans may start as early as 45, according to new research.

The research published in the current edition of the British Medical Journal mentions that as opposed to common beliefs that loss of brain function starts around 60 years of age, cognitive decline can start earlier and may worsen as one enters middle-age.

The new study has provided useful details that may assist scientists in finding new ways to stave off dementia and other similar conditions.

Researchers have mentioned that treatment for cognitive decline is more likely to work during the initial stages when memory and reason first start to wane.

The research has been led by Archana Singh-Manoux from the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in France and the University College London. As per the findings, a modest decline is seen in mental reasoning in men and women aged 45-49 years.

However, Reuters states that among older subjects in the study, the average decline in cognitive function was greater, but there was a wide variation at all ages, with a third of individuals, aged 45-70, showing no deterioration over the period.

For the study, researchers analysed the mental abilities and other details of around 7,000 civil servants between 1997 and 2007. Each of the test subjects, aged between 45 and 70 at the start, were asked to undertake a series of tests at the beginning and end of the 10-year period.

They found that there was a 3.6 percent cognitive decline over the decade in individuals from 45 to 49 in 1997. With age, this decline gathered pace with those who were in their late 60s in 1997 and their abilities declined by 8.5 per cent by 2007.