Researchers analyzed cognitive performance data from nearly 1,100 men aged 56 over a 12-year period.
They also examined the effects of airborne aerosol particles and nitrogen dioxide, which are released when fossil fuels are burned, on various aspects of brain function, such as memory, behavior control and information processing.
It found that participants aged 40 to 50 exposed to higher levels of air pollution had worse cognitive performance in terms of fluency.
Men between the ages of 56 and 68 who were exposed to high levels of airborne particles scored worse on executive brain function, while those exposed to higher levels of nitrogen dioxide scored worse on episodic memory.
Recall that the executive function of the brain is responsible for planning, controlling and coordinating thought processes and actions. In contrast, episodic memory allows you to remember and experience individual past events.
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