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THE AGING BRAIN

-cognition-

Presented by
Ronald Lucchino, PhD
Di
Director
off Policy,
P li
Al
Alzheimers
h i
A
Association,
i i
NM

rvluc@pop.net

OBJECTIVES
Objective
j
1: To be able to describe the age
g related
cognitive changes in the aging brain
Objective
j
2: To be able to describe age
g associated
(negative) cognitive changes in the
brain
Objective 3: To be able to describe how to improve
the brains cognitive
g
function as we
age

Generall O
G
Overview
i
-How
H
the Brain Works
-Cognitiong

Anatomy
y and Function of the Brain
Involved in Cognition

Inside the
Human Brain
The Brains Vital Statistics
Adult weight: about 3
pounds
d
Adult size: a medium
cauliflower
Number of neurons:
100,000,000,000
(100 billion)
Number of synapses
y p
(the
(
gap between neurons):
100,000,000,000,000
(100 trillion)

Slide 8

Inside the
Human Brain
Neurons

The brain has billions of


neurons, each
h with
i h an axon
and many dendrites.
T
To stay
t healthy,
h lth neurons
must communicate with
each other,, carryy out
metabolism, and repair
themselves.
Neurotransmitters carry the
message between synapse.

Slide 14

Inside
id the
h Human Brain
i
Major Cognitive Functioning areas of the brain
1 Cerebral Hemispheres where sensory information
1.
received from the outside world is processed; this part
of the brain controls voluntary movement and
regulates conscious thought and mental activity:

accounts for 85% of brains weight

consists of two hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum

i coveredd by
is
b an outer
t layer
l
called
ll d the
th cerebral
b l cortex
t

Slide 9

Hippocampus: where short-term memories are converted to long-term memories


Thalamus: receives sensory and limbic information and sends to cerebral cortex
Hypothalamus:: monitors certain activities and controls bodys internal clock
(pituitary gland)
Limbic system:: controls
t l emotions
ti
and
d iinstinctive
ti ti behavior
b h i (includes
(i l d the
th
hippocampus and parts of the cortex)
Prefrontal cortex: high executive function - attention span, perseverance,
planning, judgment, impulse control, organization, self-monitoring and
supervision, problem solving, critical thinking, forward thinking, learning from
experience and mistakes, ability to feel and express emotions, influences the limbic
system, empathy
Frontal cortex: Attach significance to external stimuli,
stimuli form provisional
plan, monitor performance, use feedback to alter behavior
Brocas area: is the area in the left frontal lobe specialized for the production of
language - speech.
Wernickes area: the region of the cortex in the superior and posterior region of
the left temporal lobe that helps mediate language comprehension
comprehension.

Working memory -

self order pointed task,


task memories (both shortshort
term and long-term declarative) held briefly in mind that enable a
particular
pa
t cu a task
tas to be accomplished
acco p s ed (e.g., efficiently
e c e t y searching
sea c g a room
oo for
o
lost keys).

Episodic
i di memory - is a neurocognitive (brain/mind) system,
uniquely different from other memory systems, that enables human
b i
beings
to
t remember
b pastt experiences
i

Long term memorymemory paired associate learning and recall


of past events, names, faces places

Inside the Human Brain


Cognitive Activity in the Brain

Hearing Words

Speaking Words

Seeing Words

Thinking about Words

Different mental activities take place in different parts of the


brain. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans can measure
this activity.
activity Chemicals tagged with a tracer light
light up
up activated
regions shown in red and yellow.

Slide 13

Inside
id the
h Human Brain
i
Minor Cognitive Functioning areas
of the brain

2. Cerebellum in charge of balance and coordination:

takes up about 10% of brain

consists of two hemispheres

receives information from eyes, ears, and muscles and joints


about
b
bodys
b d movements andd position
ii

Slide 10

Inside
id the
h Human Brain
i
Minor Cognitive Functioning areas
of the brain

3. Brain Stem connects the spinal cord with the brain

relays and receives messages to and from muscles, skin, and


other organs

controls automatic functions such as heart rate, blood pressure,


and breathing

Slide 11

Wh t is
What
i A
Aging?
i ?

1. inevitable
2. irreversible
3. variable
4 linear - we are continuously age year after year
4.
5 plasticity
5.
l ti it (compensatory)
(
t ) - the
th body
b d has
h the
th
ability to compensate for loss

AGING CURVE
Maximum vitality
100
vitality

vitalityy

% vitality
death

minimum
vitality
birth
conception

30
age

senescence

\What is Vitality
y
The ability to respond to stress, the amount of
reserve capacity
The
Th greater
t number
b off ffunctioning
ti i cells
ll per
organ the greater the ability to respond to stress
Maximum vitality is 100%.
Loss
L
off vitality
it lit is
i 0
0.8%
8% per year after
ft age 30

DETERMINANTS OF AGING

INTERACTION BETWEEN THE FOLLOWING:


1. GENETICS - AT BIRTH 100% OF FUNCTION IS DETERMINED
BY GENETICS, REDUCING IN IMPORTANCE WITH AGING
Positive
P i i gene - few
f to none early,
l lifelong
lif l
or
late-onset genetic diseases

Neutral to negative genes


genes- increase vulnerability to

early, lifelong or late-onset genetic diseases


possible cardiovascular dysfunction
possible mild osteoporosis
possible rheumatoid disease
sensory impairment
possible diabetes
marked decline in cognition

Negative
g
ggenes- early,
y, lifelong
g or late-onset ggenetic

diseases
inherited diseases
p
disabilities
developmental
Alzheimers disease
dementia
d
ti (severe
(
decline
d li in
i cognition)
iti )
severe cardiovascular disease
severe osteoporosis
cancer
neuro-muscular (Parkinson)
Rheumatoid diseases

2. LIFESTYLE - INCREASES IN IMPORTANCE TO 7O%


BY AGE 60
Diet

Physical exercise

Mental exercise

Attitude/self-esteem

3. ENVIRONMENT

Air and water

Home

Society

Physical barriers

DESCRIPTORS OF AGING
SUCCESSFUL AGING

USUAL AGING

PATHOLOGICAL AGING

SUCCESSFUL AGING
deleterious effects of aging
g g are minimized,, ppreserving
g function
Positive
P increases
iti genes
until senescence
vulnerability to loss (e.g.,memory
decline))

Positive lifestyle
good diet
physical exercise
mental exercise
positive attitude

USUAL AGING
Physical or mental functional decline from the interaction of
neutral or negative genes and poor lifestyle from birth to about
age 70 causing a loss of some independence
Neutral to negative genes
Poor
P
lif
life style
t l
poor diet
little physical exercise
little mental exercise
neutral
t l to
t negative
ti attitude
ttit d

PATHOLOGICAL AGING
Serious functional limitations from the interaction of
either genetically inherited or developmental traits with
poor lifestyle
p
y causing
g a substantial reduction in daily
y
activities
Negative gene

Negative lifestyle
poor diet
no physical exercise
no mental exercise
very poor attitude
ttit d

TERMS TO DESCRIBE AGING


Age related changes-

changes that every one will


experience as they age (time and magnitude may vary)

Age associated changes -changes that are not


related and not experienced by everyone. The
magnitude of changes depend on the
positive: genes, lifestyle, environment

age
types and
interaction of not

Di
Disease
associated
i t d changes
h
- When
h age
associated changes results in a reduced functional
capacity with a loss of independence (home care
care,
hospital care, nursing home)

Wh t is
What
i Cognition
C iti

Three components
p
of Cognition
g
Input - sensory
P
Processing
i IInformation
f
ti

Output - motor

Sensory Input (type,


(
location
l
andd intensity off input))
vision
hearing/balance/orientation
smell/taste
ll/t t
pain
touch
temperature
p
thirst
muscle tone
blood pressure

Information Process (speed) (neurons and synaptic connections)

identify
fy input
p ((different
ff
regions
g
off brain))
type, intensity and location

interpret
p input
p
integrate response (multi
( l brain)
b
)
conscience, memory, behavior, emotions, movement

Motor Response
appropriate
app
op iate (type and intensity)
directed
reflex
h h brain
higher
b

The brain can only make an


appropriate respond if:
acuity
it off the
th type
t
andd intensity
i t it off input
i
t in
i clear
l
(no multi sensory overload)
neurons and synaptic connections are intact

Cognitive
g
Functions
memory - learning or training new information
higher executive skills- handling complex tasks,
abstract thought,
g , planning,
p
g,

pproblem solvingg

reasoning ability - respond to problems,

judgment

spatial and orientation ability- organizing


objects, finding way in familiar surroundings

language - finding words


words, following conversation

Moderators Influencing
g Cognition
g
Genetics

Education
Fitness
Expertise skills
Lifestyle
Lif t l
Occupation
Leisure time activities

Major
j Cognitive
g
Development
p
Process rate or speed of input
Memory transfer
Inhibitors of irrelevant information

Phylogeny and Ontogeny Development


of Cognition
Development of Cognition

Expression of Cognition

Evolution - g
genetics

nerve net

(phylogeny)

(basic behavior)

Developmental influences-

endocrine

E
Expression
i off genes/hormones
/h
((ontogeny)
t
)

(h
(hormonal
lb
behavior)
h i )

Environment influences
(External modification of genes)

cortical behavior
(cognition)

Cognitive
g
Abilities
Crystalline/pragmatic abilities lifelong acquisition of
learning and acculturation
acculturation verbal knowledge,
knowledge
comprehension

Fluid/mechanical abilities ((innate)) the biological


g
constrained of genetic hardwiring of the cognitive system
process based,, - reasoning,
g, speed
p
of pprocessing
g - not
-p
affected by experience or knowledge

Aging Changes in the Brain


-CognitionCognition

Less than 30 years ago, the prevailing medical


wisdom declared that "senility" was the result of
either
i h normall aging
i or hardening
h d i off the
h arteries.
i
Today we are closer to truly understanding the
aging brain,
brain for which one of the benchmarks of
the decline in cognitive reserve capacity is
y
memory.

C
Cognitive
i i Reserve
R
Capacity
C
i the developmental plasticity of
cognitive
g
function in older adults
occurs within a limited range

Three Determinants that Influences


Cognitive
g
Reserve Capacity
p y Over
Lifespan
1. Evolution selects benefits for humans over time - declines
with reproductive fitness.
2. Age related increase in need for culture knowledge acquisition
crystalline cognition (knowledge acquisition)
3. Age related decrease in fluid intelligence (nerve net)
Ontogeny moves from growth (youth) to maintenance (adult) to
reduction of loss older adult)

Cognition
Input - sensory
Processing

Output - motor

Sensory Input
Differential reduction in acuity in the
type
yp and intensityy of sensoryy input
p starting at about the age of 30
Slower
Sl
iin recognition
iti off input
i t
Slower in processing speed of input