Breaking News
March 25, 2019 - Exposure to particulate air pollution may lead to reduced sperm production
March 25, 2019 - Synthetic peptide appears to disrupt inflammation and protect kidneys from nephritis
March 25, 2019 - New guideline focuses on strategies to improve health of older adults with diabetes
March 25, 2019 - Study evaluates prescribing of preventive drugs at the end of life in older adults with cancer
March 25, 2019 - Radial or femoral approaches for PCI are equal in terms of survival in heart attack patients
March 25, 2019 - Study shows how some autoimmune diseases are more closely related than others
March 25, 2019 - Long term opioid medications impacts production of important hormones
March 25, 2019 - FDA Issues Complete Response Letter for Zynquista (sotagliflozin)
March 25, 2019 - CDC researchers report on trends in hospital breastfeeding policies
March 25, 2019 - States Push For Caregiver Tax Credits
March 25, 2019 - Females on ketogenic diet fail to show metabolic benefits in animal model
March 25, 2019 - Modulating stiffness of blood-forming stem cells could facilitate mobilization procedures
March 25, 2019 - Gene editing regulations to be tightened
March 25, 2019 - CPAP treatment can result in weight loss in people with sleep apnea and obseity
March 25, 2019 - Breast Density Categorization Varies With Screening Modality
March 25, 2019 - Researchers explore link between metal exposure and Parkinson’s symptoms
March 25, 2019 - Later meal timing may contribute to weight gain
March 25, 2019 - Around one in hundred people has autism spectrum condition in China
March 25, 2019 - Research paves way for new standard of care to improve heart’s pump function
March 25, 2019 - Exposure to HIV virus, antiretroviral therapy before birth linked to obesity and asthma-like symptoms
March 25, 2019 - Transgender men preserve their fertility potential after one year of testosterone therapy
March 25, 2019 - Tighter Blood Pressure Control May Prevent Brain Lesions
March 25, 2019 - A reward now or later? Exploring impulsivity in Parkinson’s disease patients
March 25, 2019 - Financial incentives fail to increase completion rates of colorectal cancer screening tests mailed to patients
March 25, 2019 - New research program launched to highlight sexual harassment in academia
March 25, 2019 - Hemoglobin A1c blood test does not detect diabetes in most patients, shows study
March 25, 2019 - Wyss Technology licensed by Sherlock Biosciences to create affordable molecular diagnostics
March 25, 2019 - DWK Life Sciences launches KIMBLE GLS 80 Media Bottle and Multiport Cap System
March 25, 2019 - New study aims to reduce online sexual exploitation of children
March 25, 2019 - Want healthier eating habits? Start with a workout
March 25, 2019 - New approach to prescribing antibiotics could curb resistance
March 24, 2019 - Theravance Biopharma Announces First Patient Dosed in Phase 2b/3 Study of TD-1473 in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis
March 24, 2019 - Prenatal DHA prevents blood-pressure increase from obesity during childhood
March 24, 2019 - Combined immunosuppression may be effective, safe in treating older patients with Crohn’s disease
March 24, 2019 - GSK sells health drinks arm, buys US cancer treatment firm
March 24, 2019 - Bacteria and innate immune factors in birth canal, cervix may be key to predicting preterm births
March 24, 2019 - IgG antibodies play unexpected role in atherosclerosis
March 24, 2019 - Sounds and vibrations are quite similar for the brain, finds new study
March 24, 2019 - Practices for Reducing COPD Hospital Readmissions Explored
March 24, 2019 - Could an eye doctor diagnose Alzheimer’s before you have symptoms?
March 24, 2019 - Enzyme inhibitor stops inflammation and neurodevelopmental disorders in mouse models
March 24, 2019 - Walk, Dance, Clean: Even a Little Activity Helps You Live Longer
March 24, 2019 - Americans used less eye care in 2014 versus 2008
March 24, 2019 - Study finds link between depression in 20s linked to memory loss in 50s
March 24, 2019 - New tool helps physiotherapy students to master complex fine motor skills
March 24, 2019 - The AMR Centre secures £2.3m funding boost
March 24, 2019 - Study examines effects of taking ondansetron during first trimester of pregnancy
March 24, 2019 - Researchers identify a more effective treatment for cancer
March 24, 2019 - Open-source solution for multiparametric optical mapping of the heart’s electrical activity
March 24, 2019 - New nanotechnology approach shows promise in treating triple negative breast cancer
March 24, 2019 - Trevena Announces Publication of APOLLO-1 Results in The Journal of Pain Research Highlighting Oliceridine’s Potential for Management of Moderate-to-Severe Acute Pain
March 24, 2019 - Maternal deaths following C-section 50 times higher in Africa compared to high-income countries
March 24, 2019 - Apple watch could detect irregular heart beat says study
March 24, 2019 - Queen Mary University of London’s BCI boosts radionuclide imaging capabilities with MILabs VECTor technology
March 24, 2019 - Girls should be encouraged to gain more ball skills, shows study
March 24, 2019 - Acute doses of synthetic cannabinoid can impair critical thinking and memory
March 24, 2019 - Presence of bacteria in urine does not always point to infection, shows study
March 24, 2019 - Scientists identify a new role for nerve-supporting cells
March 24, 2019 - Hidden differences between pathology of CTE and Alzheimer’s disease discovered
March 24, 2019 - Knowing causative genes of osteoporosis may open door to more effective treatments
March 24, 2019 - Toilet-seat based cardiovascular monitoring system getting ready to begin commercialization
March 24, 2019 - New model for intensive care identifies factors that send ill patients to ICU
March 24, 2019 - Recommendations Issued for HSCT in Multiple Myeloma
March 24, 2019 - Deep brain stimulation provides sustained relief for severe depression
March 24, 2019 - “Statistical significance” may soon be a thing of past?
March 24, 2019 - Researchers track effects of epigenetic marks carried by sperm chromosomes
March 24, 2019 - AHA News: Family Adopts Three Children With Three Different Heart Conditions
March 24, 2019 - Research into opioid painkillers could provide clues for safer drug development
March 23, 2019 - Lung cancer survivor recounts her lifetime struggles
March 23, 2019 - Radial and femoral approach for PCI achieve similar results in terms of survival
March 23, 2019 - Study sheds light on the optimal timing of coronary angiography in NSTEMI patients
March 23, 2019 - Excess hormones could cause a condition that can lead to blindness in women, study finds
March 23, 2019 - Dramatic shifts in first-time opioid prescriptions bring hope, concern
March 23, 2019 - Antidepressant drugs may not work when neurons are out of shape
March 23, 2019 - TTUHSC El Paso to establish endowed chair in neurology through a major grant
March 23, 2019 - New device approved by FDA for treating patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure
March 23, 2019 - People with peripheral artery disease have lower Omega-3 Index, shows research
March 23, 2019 - Trigger warnings have minimal impact on how people respond to content, shows research
March 23, 2019 - Gilead Announces Data From Two Studies Supporting Further Development of GS-6207, a Novel, Investigational HIV-1 Capsid Inhibitor as a Component of Future Long-Acting HIV Therapies
March 23, 2019 - Selfish genetic elements amplify inflammation and age-related diseases
How the Aging Brain Affects Thinking

How the Aging Brain Affects Thinking

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

The brain controls many aspects of thinking—remembering, planning and organizing, making decisions, and much more. These cognitive abilities affect how well we do 3 older men playing chess in the parkeveryday tasks and whether we can live independently.

Some changes in thinking are common as people get older. For example, older adults may have:

  • Increased difficulty finding words and recalling names
  • More problems with multi-tasking
  • Mild decreases in the ability to pay attention

Aging may also bring positive cognitive changes. People often have more knowledge and insight from a lifetime of experiences. Research shows that older adults can still:

  • Learn new things
  • Create new memories
  • Improve vocabulary and language skills

The Older, Healthy Brain

As a person gets older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain.

  • Certain parts of the brain shrink, especially those important to learning and other complex mental activities.
  • In certain brain regions, communication between neurons (nerve cells) can be reduced.
  • Blood flow in the brain may also decrease.
  • Inflammation, which occurs when the body responds to an injury or disease, may increase.

These changes in the brain can affect mental function, even in healthy older people. For example, some older adults find that they don’t do as well as younger people on complex memory or learning tests. Given enough time, though, they can do as well. There is growing evidence that the brain remains “plastic”—able to adapt to new challenges and tasks—as people age.

It is not clear why some people think well as they get older while others do not. One possible reason is “cognitive reserve,” the brain’s ability to work well even when some part of it is disrupted. People with more education seem to have more cognitive reserve than others.

Some brain changes, like those associated with Alzheimer’s disease, are NOT a normal part of aging. Talk with your healthcare provider if you are concerned.

Brain Regions

The brain is complex and has many specialized parts. For example, the two halves of the brain, called cerebral hemispheres, are responsible for intelligence.

The cerebral hemispheres have an outer layer called the cerebral cortex. This region, the brain’s “gray matter,” is where the brain processes sensory information, such as what we see and hear. The cerebral cortex also controls movement and regulates functions such as thinking, learning, and remembering.

For more information about parts of the brain, see Know Your Brain from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health.

How Brain Cells Work

The healthy human brain contains many different types of cells. Neurons are nerve cells that process and send information throughout the brain, and from the brain to the muscles and organs of the body.

The ability of neurons to function and survive depends on three important processes:

  • Communication. When a neuron receives signals from other neurons, it generates an electrical charge. This charge travels to the synapse, a tiny gap where chemicals called neurotransmitters are released and move across to another neuron.
  • Metabolism. This process involves all chemical reactions that take place in a cell to support its survival and function. These reactions require oxygen and glucose, which are carried in blood flowing through the brain.
  • Repair, remodeling, and regeneration. Neurons live a long time—more than 100 years in humans. As a result, they must constantly maintain and repair themselves. In addition, some brain regions continue to make new neurons.

Other types of brain cells, called glial cells, play critical roles in supporting neurons. In addition, the brain has an enormous network of blood vessels. Although the brain is only 2 percent of the body’s weight, it receives 20 percent of the body’s blood supply.

See more resources about cognitive health.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles