Brain aging and plasticity and environmental enrichment!
Successful brain aging:
enrichment, and lifestyle
• MD Francisco Mora
• Dialogues Clinical Neuroscience 2013 March
• University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
• Aging is a physiological process that can develop without
the appearance of concurrent diseases. However, older
people suffer from memory loss and cognitive decline.
Studies of the neurobiology of aging are beginning to
decipher the mechanisms behind the physiology of aging of
the brain but also the mechanisms that make people more
vulnerable to cognitive neurodegenerative diseases. Today
we know that the aging brain retains a functional
plasticity, which is positively promoted by genes activated
by different lifestyle factors. In this article these lfactors and
their mechanisms of action are reviewed, including
environmental enrichment and the importance of food
intake and some nutrients. Aerobic physical exercise and
reduction of chronic stress are also briefly reviewed. It is
proposed that lifestyle factors promote healthy and
successful aging of the brain.
• Aging of the brain is a very complex biological
process associated with decline in
sensory, motor, and cognitive functions.
However, aging is not a disease
• Aging without the appearance of concurrent
diseases is successful aging.
• Nonetheless, the possibility of individuals
suffering from dementia, as a consequence of
that physiological process of aging, has been
• It has been suggested that around 120 years of
age, without diseases, the population of
neocortical synapses could decline to the level
found in Alzheimer's disease, with a loss of
intracerebral connectivity of around 40%. This
causes senile dementia without the presence of
the plaques and tangles that characterize
• Increase in life expectancy is humanity's greatest
• Aging is not a genetically programmed
• It is controlled by molecular events which
cause accumulations in the brain cells and
have deleterious effects.
• Mostly the causes of aging are:
Increase in oxidative
stress free radicals
hence low energy for
• Longevity means to delay aging.
• It is controlled by genes that maintain and fix
damage caused by free radicals and
• Today we know that longevity depends more
on genes that are activated by different
• Lifestyle factors govern how long and healthily
we live and grow old gracefully.
• Ambiome is a set of cultural ,physical
, structural factors that affect anatomy and
physiology of the brain.
• The aging brain retains a certain plasticity
dependant on its environment.
• These changes are governed by interaction
• Non homologous changes, hypothesis:
No significant loss
of neurons except
in mono amine
cells of mid brain.
• More functional changes compared to anatomical
1.Deficits in potentiating induction
2.Deficits in long term depression induction
3.Changes in Calcium ion homeostasis which is
related to protein oxidation ( high accumulation
of Ca ion in intracellular fluid causes neuron
• All these lead to cognitive diseases.
• Brain diseases depend on 3 main age related
changes in the Neurotrophic Factors:
decrease in BDNF
Causing age related
impairments in rats.
Deficit in expression of
Neuronal factors lead
• Experimental setting in which individuals
receive better social and cognitive interactions
which leads to better learning and successful
• 20 to 40% reduction (without malnutrition)
• Decrease brain aging by decrease in
mitochondrial reactive Oxygen Species that
• Reduce cognitive deficits.
• Improves glucose homeostasis and insulin
• Elevated production of BDNF in hippocampus.
• Omega 3 fatty acid is important for the
neuronal membranes, its increased intake
leads to increased BDNF in the hippocampus.
• Another example is flavonoids.
Omega 3 fatty acid
Increase in stress
• Aging is not a disease. Aging is actually
controlled by genes activated by our lifestyle
factors and their affects on the anatomy and
function of the brain. The primary goal of this
article is for people to grow old gracefully
with full participation In life. Factors like
exercise, low stress, caloric restriction and
environmental enrichment can result in
• Helpful and practical review, however the use
of flow charts and a few figures could have
made it much better and more interesting.