The aging brain

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  • 1. The Aging Brain By Amanda Brown ECE275
  • 2. Brain Loss
    • The brain shrinks with age by about 5-10% of its weight.
    • Neurons die through aging or illness.
    • Acetycholine-producing nucleus loses ½ of its neurons
      • This causes a slower reaction in the aging brain
    • Dopamine-producing substantia nigra loses 35-40% of its neurons
    • The raph nucleus loses 35-40% of its neurons
      • The raph nucleus produces serotonin which is important for mood and appetite
    • The hippocampus loses about 5% of its neurons through again
    • The aging brain experiences a great loss in neurons that are vital for proper functioning
    • “ Decrease in cognitive ability starts at age 40 and continues at least until age 80.” (Moffett 2006)
  • 3. Central Nervous System Changes
    • The brain and spine lose nerve cells
    • This effects:
      • The transfer of sensations
      • Voluntary muscle commands
      • Muscle coordination
      • Equilibrium
    • This can cause jerky, uncontrolled movement and can result in loss of coordination and falls.
  • 4. Changes in the Senses
    • Through the many changes occurring in the brain and in the sensory organs, senses are less accurate with age.
    • Age requires a greater stimulation for the senses to be activated.
    • The eyes and ears are the most effected which makes it harder for elders to gather information about their surrounding environments. Such as where they are and who is around them.
  • 5. Bones and Muscles
    • Joints and Muscles become weaker because the brains management of body movement declines.
    • The loss of tendons and muscles slow reflexes and due to brittle joints, pain occurs and causes a decrease in energy.
  • 6. Emotions
    • Biochemical imbalances in the brain cause depression and anxiety among the elderly
    • 15-25% of elderly people (65+) experience a high level of depression
    • 1/5 of suicides are from people 65 and older
    • Studies show that if older people socialize with friends their morale is boosted.
  • 7. Learning
    • The elderly tend to process information more slowly and have a harder time recalling specific information but the aging brain is still capable of processing information.
    They may be older, but they can still learn to play Nintendo Wii!
  • 8. Diseases of Aging Can Cause These Problems
    • Reduces the number of brain cells
    • Reduces the number of connections between brain cells- occurs when there is a lack of physical or mental activities, or depression.
    • Impairs the generation of electrical activity- can occur if alcohol intoxication happens
    • Disrupts the production of energy- occurs in Parkinsons disease, diabetes and cancer treatments.
    • Damages axons which slow reactions within the brain- occurs when there is hypertension, heart disease or a stroke.
    • (Amen, 2005)
  • 9. Memory Loss
    • Memory is affected by age, and it may be hard for elders to remember facts or events.
    • It may also be difficult for them to keep information for a few seconds.
    • PET scans show that the aging brain has trouble encoding memories more than a younger brain does.
  • 10. Dementia
    • “ True dementia may only exist in only about 5% of the population over age 65.” (Sweeny 2009)
    • Dementia is NOT a normal part of aging
    • If 2 or more brain functions involving memory and language skills are problematic, dementia can be diagnosed.
    • Some signs of dementia include memory loss, disorientation, confusion and misplacement of items.
    • Medication cannot cure dementia but can help with symptoms or can sometimes slow the deterioration process.
    • Genetic factors can play a role.
  • 11. Alzheimer’s
    • Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia.
    • It deteriorates the parts of the brain that is vital for thinking, memory and reasoning.
    • It can cause one to become fully dependent on another for survival because the person loses all necessary skills to live.
    • At the final stage of the disease, the person may be completely lost and will eventually die.
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce the risk
    • Studies are being conducted to see if an fMRI could be used to early detect this disease
  • 12. Strokes
    • High blood pressure (which is common in older people) accounts for 70% of strokes.
    • A stroke occurs in a quick moment. A stroke is when blood flow to the brain is cut off.
    • The brain needs oxygen brought from the blood in order for brain cells to live. When brain cells die because of a stroke, so do cognitive and motor functions that are made possible because of these cells.
    • It often takes time for a person to heal properly from the survival of a stroke and they must be properly rehabilitated.
  • 13. Neurogenesis
    • We now know that the aging brain can complete the process of building or repairing new neurons.
    • Medical research could aid the brain to heal itself by transplanting healthy cells into the brain to help reconstruct the lack of cells.
  • 14. Neural stem cells as therapeutic agents for age-related brain repair By- Giovanna M. Bernal and Daniel A. Peterson*
    • New research shows that the aging brain can perform neurogenesis. But however, the process of neurogenisis greatly decreases with age.
    • This gives new optimism that stem cells could possibly be used to support and aid the brain in neuronal loss.
    • “ The aging brain is vulnerable to mild cognitive impairment, increasing incidence of stroke, and a variety of neurodegenerative diseases.” (Bernal 2004)
    • Most studies however have been conducted on younger adults rather than the elderly which provides wrong information.
    • This review focuses on previous studies done on younger adults and recognizes the changes that occur at a later age as well as information available pertaining to neurogenisis at a later age.
  • 15. Cont…
    • If stem cells could be used, it could greatly aid the brain and help the process of neuronal loss which could play a pivotal role in the onset of degenerative disorders.
    • “ Neural stem cell therapy has considerable potential to repopulate damaged areas of the brain.” (Bernal 2004)
  • 16. Recent Studies-Research on aging using brain imaging and cognitive tests over 6 years in 145 healthy elderly subjects. By Hirohide Kada
    • Background
      • Researchers wanted to further study brain aging on elderly adults. Over a period of 6 years 145 individuals brains and daily lives were examined.
    • Methods
      • 145 elderly people who were considered to be healthy were divided into groups depending on their age.
      • Group A 69 years or younger and Group B 70 years or older
      • Each year they were given 3 tests to determine their brain status and see if there has been any decrease in cognition.
      • The Benton Visual retention test (BVRT) is an established visual test in Japan and examines mistakes such as distortion, rotation, misplacement and mistakes in size.
      • Enhanced cue recall is a test in which a person must recall certain objects in a drawing after performing an unrelated task. This test is scored upon items recalled and items that couldn’t be recalled.
      • A symbol test is another visual test in which numbers replace symbols.
  • 17. Study Cont…
    • Results
      • “ Changes over time in Benton’s visual retention test (BVRT) and enhanced cued recall (ECR), both of which rely mainly on subjects memorizing figures, were seen in Group B. With the coding test, the results from the second phase (initial test) showed differences according to initial age; in addition, the differences became greater with aging. It appears that work speed is reduced with increasing age.” (Kada 2008)
    • Conclusion
      • “ The results of the BVRT and ECR suggest that enlargement of the Sylvian fissure and atrophy of the temporal lobe are indicators of deterioration of memory.” (Kada 2008)
      • This study basically showed the correlation between again and decreased brain function. It is very technical but interesting. See actual source if you are interested in more information.
  • 18. Know Your Own Risk Against Aging Brain Diseases
    • 1.__(3.5) One family member with Alzheimer’s disease or other cause of dementia
    • 2.__(7.5) More than one family member with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
    • 3.__(2.0) A single head injury with the loss of consciousness for more than a few minutes.
    • 4.__(2.0) Several head injuries without loss of consciousness.
    • 5.__(4.4) Alcohol dependence or drug dependence is past or present.
    • 6.__(2.0) Major depression diagnosed by a physician in past or present.
    • 7.__(10) Stroke
    • 8.__(2.5) Heart (coronary artery) disease or heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI)
    • 9.__(2.1) High cholesterol
    • 10.__(2.3) High blood pressure
    • 11.__(3.4) Diabetes
    • 12.__(3.0) History of cancer or cancer treatment.
    • 13.__(1.5) Seizures in past or present.
    • 14.__(2.0) Limited exercise (less than 2x per week or less than 30 minutes per session)
    • 15.__(2.0) Less than a high school education.
    • 16.__(2.0) Jobs that do not require periodically learning new information.
    • 17.__(2.3) Smoking cigarettes for 10 years or longer
    • 18.__(2.5) One apolipoprotein E4 (if known)
    • 19.__(5.0) Two apolipoprotein E4 genes (if known)
    • _________ TOTAL UP YOUR SCORE BY ADDING ALL CHECKED SCORES
  • 19. What Does Your Score Mean?
    • If you scored a 0,1, or 2, then you have a low risk factor for developing the brain diseases of aging.
    • If you scored a 3,4,5, or 6, then you have a moderate risk and should take prevention seriously.
    • If you scored higher than a 6, you have a higher risk and should make prevention tasks a part of your life.
    This test is from Making a Good Brain Great by Daniel G. Amen
  • 20. Tips on How to Keep a Healthy Brain and decrease your risk of brain aging diseases
    • Find a way to keep stress under control through sleep, exercise, laughter and meditation/prayer.
    • Stay away from drugs and alcohol, which can effect brain functions.
    • Exercise and make your every day diet healthy with foods that help your body, such as blueberries that are high in antioxidants.
    • Keep your blood pressure under control and properly monitor diabetes.
    • Do not smoke, it increases your risk of stroke and heart disease which effect your brain.
    • Receive treatment for depression and/or anxiety.
    • Seek treatment for sleep apnea.
    • Take supplements if your diet is lacking certain vitamins.
  • 21. Annotated bibliography follows…
  • 22.
    • Amen, Daniel. (2005). Making a good brain great . New York: Harmony Books.
      • This source was informative in that it provided an entire chapter on the aging brain. It gave me in depth facts about my research topic and gave readers ideas on how to sustain optimal brain performance and prevent brain diseases caused by age. The author is credible because he is an M.D. with many years of experience. He presents useful and objective information
    • Bernal, G. (2004). neural stem cells as therapeutic agents for age-related brain repair. Aging Cell , 3 (6), Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=4659d954-4674-4e98-b363-d178c8cc78dc%40sessionmgr115&vid=15&hid=8 doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9728.2004.00132.x
      • This article was very technical and sometimes hard to follow because I didn’t understand the terminology. However, it was useful to my project because it examined neurogenesis and the issue of whether the brain can repair itself. It also brings up the issue of what can be done to help the brain repair itself.
    • Kada, Hirohide. (2008). Research on aging using brain imaging and cognitive tests over 6 years in 145 healthy elderly subjects. PSYCHOGERIATRICS , 8 . Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=4659d954-4674-4e98-b363-d178c8cc78dc%40sessionmgr115&vid=5&hid=113 doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8301.2008.00238.x
      • This source is peer reviewed and was very interesting and gave further insight into brain studies and conclusions. It examined a brain study conducted on elderly that evaluated cognitivity with age. This was helpful to my project because it pertained to cognitive decline from aging.
    • Moffett, S. (2006). The three-pound enigma . New York, New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
      • This source was helpful because it examined the brain throughout life, and specifically had a chapter for old age. The author, who was a current medical student at the time she wrote this book gave further insight to topics such as brain functions, brain connections and Alzheimer’s disease which were vital issues for my project.
    • Sweeney, M. (2009). Brain the complete mind . Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society.
      • I used our textbook as a source because it had very useful information pertaining to my topic. Not only did it give me vital information, it gave me several topics to focus on.
    Annotated bibliography