Some of these changes may be for the better, and others are not. This book primarily concerns the normally aging brain, the neuroanatomical and neurophysiological changes that occur with age, and the mechanisms that account for them. It is not primarily about the behavioral or cognitive concomitants of those changes.
Recalling a list of items to purchase at the grocery store without a cue Recognition memory: Remembering if you learned a fact because you saw it on television, read it in the newspaper, or heard it from a friend Temporal order memory: Remembering that last Saturday you went to the grocery store after you ate lunch with your friends Prospective memory: Remembering to take medicine before going to bed Procedural memory: Open in a separate window Memory can also be broken down into different stages.
Acquisition is the ability to encode new information into memory. Rate of acquisition declines across the lifespan. Overall language ability remains intact with aging. Vocabulary remains stable and even improves over time.
Visual confrontation naming, or the ability to see a common object and name it, remains about the same until age 70, and then declines in subsequent years.
Visual construction skills, which involves the ability to put together individual parts to make a coherent whole for example, assembling furniture from a box of parts declines over time. These abilities include object perception, the ability to recognize familiar objects such as household items or faces, and spatial perception, the ability to appreciate the physical location of objects either alone or in relation to other objects.
Executive Functioning Executive functioning refers to capacities that allow a person to successfully engage in independent, appropriate, purposive, and self-serving behavior. This includes a wide range of cognitive abilities such as the ability to self-monitor, plan, organize, reason, be mentally flexible, and problem-solve.
Other types of executive function, such as the ability to appreciate similarities, describe the meaning of proverbs, and reason about familiar material, remain stable throughout life. Studies vary significantly in design, including study population and variables examined, and more research in this area is needed.
In this section we will describe some of the age-related changes that have been identified and present theories for how these changes may relate to neurocognitive aging.
Grey matter volume decline Grey matter volume begins to decrease after age Age-related changes in the temporal lobes are more moderate and involve decreases in the volume of the hippocampus. Neuronal death is particularly detrimental given infrequent cell division and opportunity for mutations to therefore accumulate.
Its elevated presence in patients with mild cognitive impairment predicts conversion to AD. Thus, beta-amyloid can accumulate in the brains of people currently classified as cognitively normal, but it may signal high risk for developing cognitive impairment over time.
Mentalizing Mentalizing has been defined as the ability to infer the mental state of others. A recent study using functional MRI fMRI confirmed prior studies showing that older adults have decreased mentalizing capacity.
This raises the possibility that this area of the brain may be important for mentalizing, and may become less active with advancing age. Neuronal Size and Synaptic Density Despite the numerous theories explaining neuronal loss, grey matter volume decline in older adults is best explained not by death of the neurons themselves but by decrease in their size and the number of connections between them.
These morphologic changes likely contribute directly to the reduction of synaptic density.
Nonetheless, these findings have been supported by others, for example, Rogalski et al described that parahippocampal white matter was decreased leading to decreased communication with hippocampal structures and suggesting a possible mechanism for age-associated memory declines.
DTI has allowed us to observe in vivo that white matter integrity declines with increasing age. If an older adult develops functional impairments, even with complicated tasks such as managing finances or medications, it is prudent to pursue a workup for dementia if there is no other obvious explanation for these difficulties, such as a reaction to a medication, a new medical illness, or a vision problem.
However, studies show that normal cognitive aging can result in subtle declines in complex functional abilities, such as the ability to drive. Unfortunately, even older adults who manage to avoid all of these challenges may still become unsafe drivers due to normal cognitive aging, which can cause small decrements in the multiple cognitive domains needed for driving.
In addition to clinical evaluations, some states use licensure renewal laws as an additional safety net to aid in detecting unsafe older drivers.
These laws vary widely from state to state, but in 28 states there are additional requirements that apply only to older drivers in an effort to identify unsafe drivers. Professions with Mandatory Retirement Although it is generally illegal in the United States for employers to discriminate against people based on age, there are certain professions, including pilots, air traffic controllers, and federal law enforcement officers, where a mandatory retirement age is allowed.
So the natural question that follows, of course, is whether there are certain environmental factors that can prevent or delay age-associated cognitive declines. Support for this hypothesis is based on the fact that older adults with high cognitive function seem to participate in certain activities with greater frequency than older adults with low cognitive function.RUNNING HEAD: EFFECTS OF AGING ON COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT 2 Effects of Aging on Cognitive Development Aging is a natural process that all human beings must experience at some point in their lives.
As people age their bodies also undergo many physical and psychological changes. Many of these changes affect cognitive functioning and development of a person%(30).
In the community people need to know the effects of aging on cognitive development. As we know that aging is part of life, studies show that there is some age-related decline in cognitive development. For example, as a person grows older some brain cells die, shrink%(6).
Age-related changes in cognitive function vary considerably across individuals and across cognitive domains, with some cognitive functions appearing more susceptible than others to the effects of aging.
NEUROCOGNITIVE CHANGES IN AGING. Cognitive change as a normal process of aging has been well documented in the scientific literature. Some cognitive abilities, such as vocabulary, are resilient to brain aging and may even improve with age.
Cognitive Skills & Normal Aging Normal Amount of Cognitive Decline A commonly held misconception is that aging results in an inevitable loss of all cognitive abilities and that nothing can be done to halt this decline.
RUNNING HEAD: EFFECTS OF AGING ON COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT 2 Effects of Aging on Cognitive Development Aging is a natural process that all human beings must experience at some point in their lives. As people age their bodies also undergo many physical and psychological changes. Many of these changes affect cognitive %(30).