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The aging brain_-_courtney_cargill


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The aging brain_-_courtney_cargill

  1. 1. Courtney Cargill
  2. 2.  The brain has more plasticity the younger it is. This is why it is easier to learn new things, like a second language, when we are children than it is as an adult. If a young child has gone through trauma where damage was done to one hemisphere, the functioning hemisphere of the brain has the ability to reprogram itself to perform tasks that the damaged hemisphere would normally do (Sweeney, 2009).  Short video clip of my son using sign language at 1 year old. Click the box to play the video. This is an example of how a young brain can learn a second language, such as ASL, very easily.
  3. 3.  As we grow older, are brains are less plastic, but it becomes more mature. Adolescent girls are usually 1-2 years ahead of boys in terms of myelination, which as we know, allows for neural networks to conduct signals more rapidly (Sweeney, 2009). Adolescents have trouble controlling their emotions because the regions of the brain that control them are underdeveloped. The brain regions that control the ability to process new information and reflexes are as mature as an adult’s. The brain begins myelinating at the back of the brain, working its way toward the frontal lobes, making stronger connections. This is why teenagers are unable to make quick judgment calls like adults can and unable to control impulses and behaviors (Sweeney, 2009). Image retrieved from teenage-brain-takes-that-as-insult.html
  4. 4. • As you and your aging brain get older, your hippocampus becomes smaller, your amygdala losesvolume, white matter hyperintensities and infarcts (cell death) increase. Brain atrophy (wastes away) is alsocommon (Folstein & Folstein, 2010).•Both the spine and the brain lose nerve cells which decrease the overall weight of the brain. This begins as ayoung adult and continues for the next 60 years.•The plasticity of the neurons that remain are relatively high and begin to reconnect to new learning to replacethe lost neurons. The nerve cells that have remained are not as quick in transmitting electrochemical impulsesand those tissues can build up a fatty brown pigment called lipofuscin.•When the nerves slow down or disappear, it can lead to difficulties with moving and the five senses.•The frontal lobes do not function as well, causing a delay in reaction times, perception speed, and decisionmaking (Sweeney, 2009). Image retrieved from researchers-show
  5. 5. •The amount of time that the aging brain spends in deep sleep decreases from 20-25% for a 30 year oldto only 5-10% for most 70 year olds.•The average elderly person takes 18 minutes to fall asleep but have sleep disturbances.•These disturbances include falling and/or staying asleep, leg movements, problems withbreathing, and awaking in the middle of the night. Alcohol and tobacco are also contributors tosleeping disturbances. Alcohol reduces or can possibly even eliminate REM (rapid eye movement) andthe benefits from dreaming. Tobacco use has been linked to causing daytime drowsiness forwomen, and unpleasant dreams for men.•Regular bedtime routines would improve these sleeping problems in the elderly. If sleeping problemsstill persist, melatonin (natural hormone in the brain) can be consumed in small amounts to inducesleep (Sweeney, 2009). Image retrieved from
  6. 6.  I am choosing to discuss some basic information about of neurodegenerative disease known as dementia.  Dementia is diagnosed by the loss of two of more functions such as language skills and memory. The most common sign of dementia is memory loss. People who suffer from dementia may ask a question repeatedly, misplace objects, have language impairments because they cannot think of the words to say, or even get lost in a familiar place.  10% of dementias can be treated or reversed because the cause that triggered the dementia was temporary. Causes include adverse reactions to prescription drugs, biochemical imbalances, and substance abuse. ▪ Cortical dementia affects cerebral regions that are associated with language, memory, cognition, and social behavior. ▪ Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive, cortical form of dementia that can be triggered by physical injury. As the regions deteriorate, the Image retrieved from affected loses those skills forever. The patient eventually disease/ becomes vegetative and dies (Sweeney, 2009).
  7. 7.  Strokes can occur at any age! (NSA) Strokes are the third leading cause of death. Strokes occur when blood is blocked from flowing to the brain, either by a clot or broken artery. Without this oxygenated blood flow, brain cells diminish, and what ever motor or cognitive function they made achievable are now damaged. The brain uses one-fifth of the body’s supply of oxygen, so this is why strokes have such an immediate impact on a person. 80% of all strokes are either thrombotic or embolic (Sweeney, 2009):  Thrombotic strokes occur when fatty deposits or cholesterol block an artery by building up within its walls. There are two types of thrombotic strokes: ▪ Large Vessel Thrombosis: Occurs in the large vessels. Most often it is caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and rapid blood clot formation. Most patients who have suffered large vessel thrombotic stroke have coronary artery disease. ▪ Small Vessel Disease/ Lacunar Infarction: Occurs when a small arterial vessel is blocked by a blood clot. This type of thrombotic stroke is linked to hypertension (high blood pressure).  Embolic strokes occur when fatty clots block an arteries within the body, such as in the walls of the heart. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an artery bursts inside the brain, usually caused by high blood pressure. Remember to use FAST and call 9-1-1 immediately at the first sign of a stroke.Face: Does one side of the person’s face droop when smiling?Arms: Does one arm drift downward when both are raised?Speech: Is their speech slurred or strange?Time: If any of these symptoms have been identified, call 9-1-1! (National Stroke Association)
  8. 8. •Fatty acids from fish oil and walnuts, along with berry fruits, are a nutritional option to prevent or evenreverse age-related health disorders.•Research has proven that consuming these fatty acids and berry fruits lead to improved cognition andmotor abilities on the aging brain.•Polyphenolic compounds found in these foods contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory activitiesthat could possibly reduce sensitivity to oxidative stress that is caused by aging, inflammation, andaltered neurodegeneration.•The berries that have been proven to reverse declined motor function include: blueberries, strawberries,cranberries, blackberries, and concord grape juice.•Berries quite possibly could enhance neuronal communication within the brain & enhanceneuroprotective stress shock proteins.•Anthocyanins in blueberries have been proven to enter the brain and improve cognitive performance(Joseph, et al.). Image retrieved from
  9. 9. I highly suggest for everyone to watch this fun brain exercise video to stimulate our minds =)Increase Brain PowerHere are a few websites where you can partake in some games designed to exercise your brain:Brain MetrixBraingleSharp Brains There is a ton of information out there on the aging brain and there is no way that I could condense it into this PowerPoint, but I hope you enjoyed the information that I have included for you.
  10. 10.  Joseph, J., Cole, G., Head, E., & Ingram, D. (2009). “Nutrition, Brain Aging, and Neurodegeneration” The Journal of Neuroscience, Tufts University, Boston, MA. The information used from this source explains how berry fruits and fatty acids have been shown to reverse some effects on the aging brain. I found the information to be quite useful and informative. Sweeney, Michael S. (2009). Brain: The Complete Mind. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. 82-83, 267-295. I have retrieved a bit of information in our textbook including facts about the growing brain from infancy to adolescence to elderly, along with information about strokes and sleep patterns in the aged person. “Types of Stroke”. National Stroke Association, 2012. Web. 10 August 2012. The information retrieved from the National Stroke Association consists of defining the different types of stroke and what you can do to identify the signs of stroke. Folstein, M., & Folstein, S. (2010). Functional expressions of the aging brain. Nutrition Reviews, 68S70- S73. The information retrieved from this scholarly journal describes the effect on the aging brain and what physiological changes occur as we get older.