Plasticity in the nervous system support cognitions, and is affected by age.Plasticity in the nervous system support cognitions, and is affected by age. Brain cognitive functions decline with age. Naturally, then, several neural mechanisms in the same brain areas also shift with age. This article presents significant advances in understanding age-related changes in the medial temporal lobe and prefrontal cortex. These changes in functional plasticity contribute to behavioral impairments in the absence of major pathology.
All animals experience cognitive decline with age. It is now known that age does not equal to significant cell loss. In the hippocampus and the PFC, however, there is a significant increase in Ca2+ conductance, which likely contributes to age-related changes in plasticity or long-term potentiation or LTP and long-term depression or LTD. The maintenance of long-term memory and plasticity requires gene expression; therefore, aged animals also show alterations in these processes.
Gene Arc shows differences in expression patterns between young and old animals. Age-associated changes in the dynamics of neuronal ensembles contribute to cognitive impairment. The hippocampus and the PFC are vulnerable to age. In many species, there is a decline in associative learning and spatial memory. Also, older animals show working memory and executive function deficits. Much needs to be learned, despite the fact that the average lifespan is increasing worldwide.
In other words, age is correlated with a decline in cognitive function that is in part caused by changes in neural plasticity. These changes are subtle compared to age-associated disorders. Age-related changes in cognition may affect pathological disease states.
Functional alterations occur during age in the medial temporal lobe and the PFC. These age-associated changes might contribute to the selective cognitive impairments during aging. The subtle changes in neuronal morphology, cell to cell interactions and gene expression might alter plasticity in aged animals. These changes disrupt the network dynamics of aged neuronal ensembles that cause selective behavioral impairments.
In summary and conclusion, during aging, animals experience cognitive decline. Now it is known that the changes occurring during ageing are quite subtle and selective. Most age-associated behavioral impairments result from region-specific changes in factors that affect plasticity and alter the network dynamics of neural ensembles that support cognition.
The morphology of neurons in the PFC is more susceptible to age-related change. There is also a small decline in cell number in an area of other animals that is correlated with working memory impairments. There are therapeutic approaches that might modify hippocampal neurobiology and slow age-related cognitive decrease or partially restore plasticity.
What is the most interesting about this article is that there is still so much unknown in the area of cognition and memory. This study reflects the needs for Psychology and Medicine to collaborate closely. All realms, besides the physical or medical and the psychological and emotional, must be explored to gather new data about cognition and aging. Other realms that could affect cognition and aging are: spiritual, intellectual, and social. I am personally interested in finding out more about all these other realms as well and their relation to cognition and the lifespan.
This information/research knowledge can be used in clinical practice in a way that supports exercising the brain muscle/s, in a way that supports the client’s continuous learning, and continuous researching. Also, this information could prompt the therapist to assess the client’s environment, nutrition and wellness, life purpose and any drug usage, to verify whether these important life areas affect cognition and age. Based on my experience and the experience of my clients, I believe these areas do affect age and cognition.
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