10 Must-Know Facts About Your Aging Brain

Woman writing a note
Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, is the brain's ability to change physically --- creating new neural pathways and connections -- in response to new learning or stimuli. These physical changes can happen at any age, and go hand in hand with functional changes.

Brain plasticity is a powerful and natural force for driving beneficial changes in the brain. As the scientific community improves its understanding of specific neurological issues, we can create training activities designed to harness the brain's plasticity to create and reinforce neural pathways for specific results. In other words, we are pioneering a whole new way of treating a host of conditions that we hope will one day include Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and chronic pain, to name a few. Programs based on brain plasticity engage the brain's natural learning mechanisms, and so require no invasive procedures or medication.

What is the relationship between brain plasticity and healthy aging of the brain?

Although cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, a number of studies have shown that people who remain mentally active seem to experience less cognitive decline. Specialized programs (like those developed at PositScience) stimulate a high level of mental activity in order to engage, harness and direct the brain's plasticity.

How can you engage brain plasticity? You can engage the brain's natural plasticity -- its ability to change in response to stimuli -- if you present the right stimuli, in the right order, with the right timing. A "brain fitness" program needs to be intensive, repetitive and progressively challenging. Only by pushing the brain to learn new skills will it build and refine neural pathways. PositScience has teams of brain scientists from around the world helping to design programs. What is cognitive decline? Cognitive decline -- a gradual weakening of understanding, thinking and remembering -- is a natural and expected part of aging. This has been confirmed by numerous studies on memory, response time, attentiveness, the ability to speak and to understand what others are saying, and even IQ. We all face a gradual loss in mental sharpness as we age. This type of decline is not the same as Alzheimer's, which is a pathological condition. Who typically faces age-related cognitive change? Most people experience significant decline in cognitive abilities as they age. It is a natural part of aging. The experience of such decline may begin with occasional forgetfulness in one's 30s, with the rate of decline accelerating significantly after age 50. This predictable age-related cognitive decline results in progressive troubles with memory, communication and other cognitive abilities. How many people are affected by these issues? There are already more than 75 million Americans age 50 and older. More than 35 million Americans are now over the age of 65. With the aging of the baby boomers, there will be more than 70 million Americans over age 65 by 2030. Next: Why do people experience cognitive decline as they age? >
1 2 Next
Source: Health & Wellness

Print Article