Navigation Links
Aging Brains Get Out of Sync
Date:12/5/2007

'Senior moments' typical in later years, study suggests

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- In a finding that uncovers the biological underpinnings of "senior moments," new research shows that communication between different parts of the brain begins to break down as a person grows older.

"We wanted to see how the brain changes in cognition in normal aging," said lead researcher Randy Buckner, a professor of psychology at Harvard University. "We were interested in normal aging, aging that isn't accompanied by even the earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease."

Buckner noted that it's sometimes tough even for neurologists to understand the difference between normal aging and Alzheimer's. "There are subtle changes in how brain areas communicate and coordinate with each other," he said. "As we age, we see that communication between these areas changes."

The report appears in the Dec. 6 issue of Neuron.

In the study, Buckner's team used a brain-imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of 55 adults aged 60 and over, and 38 adults aged 35 and younger. To guarantee that none of the older subjects were in the early stages of Alzheimer's, the researchers checked for the presence of amyloid in the brains of those volunteers. If that telltale sign was detected, the person was not included in the study.

Among the adults they observed, they found that in the younger people, regions of their brains communicated easily with one another. However, this was not so with the older people.

In older people, the white matter of the brain that connects various brain areas had started to deteriorate, a chemical fact that would account for the lack of communication that affects cognitive function, Buckner said.

When these changes start isn't clear, Buckner said. "They appear to start slowly in the seventh and eighth decade of life," he said. "We also don't know what factors cause these changes to accelerate."

The cognitive changes caused by deterioration of white matter are subtle, Buckner said. "The changes in the crosstalk of brain regions are correlated with mild cognitive changes," he said. "People who have these changes are aging gracefully."

These shifts affect people differently, and not all the older people showed the alterations, Buckner said. Interestingly, some networks, such as the visual system, remained intact.

It may be possible to slow even this normal process of aging, Buckner said. "Maybe we can find ways to age even more gracefully," he added.

Buckner believes living right may help. "There are indications that staying cardiovascularly fit and healthy helps our brains age gracefully," he said. "We now have a way to study aging and to understand the factors that might help all of us age optimally."

The study points out the differences between healthy brain aging and Alzheimer's, one expert said.

"It's interesting that the normal process of brain aging is different from what we see in pre-clinical Alzheimer's," said Paul Sanberg, director of the University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair. "One can tease away what is related to aging, and what is related to a disease."

It's important in developing therapies for Alzheimer's to be able to tell the difference between normal aging and disease, Sanberg said, because "it helps us make sure that we are affecting the right problems."

In addition, knowing how the brain ages normally might make it possible to create cognitive enhancers, Sanberg said.

Another expert noted that Buckner's group looked for signs of Alzheimer's in fewer than 20 percent of the older adults in the study.

"Since one can expect 20 to 30 percent of people in their 80s to develop Alzheimer's and Alzheimer's takes decades to develop, 20 to 30 percent of the aged 'normal' subjects were probably actually on their way to Alzheimer's disease," said Greg M. Cole, associate director of research at the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center of the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center.

However, the study is a significant advance and the authors are correct in that they are seeing age-related changes that are not caused by Alzheimer's per se, said Cole, who is also the associate director of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

"Many of the old subjects retain measures of connectivity on a par with the younger group, so these changes are not necessarily an inevitable outcome of aging," Cole added. "Whatever the cause of the declines, we'd all like to know the secrets of the group that stays in the younger performance range."

More information

For more information on Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association.



SOURCES: Randy Buckner, Ph.D., professor, psychology, Harvard University, Boston; Paul Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., distinguished professor of neurosurgery, and director, University of South Florida Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, Tampa; Greg M. Cole, Ph.D., associate director, research, Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center, and associate director, Alzheimer's Disease Research Center; University of California, Los Angeles; Dec. 6, 2007, Neuron


'/>"/>
Copyright©2007 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Stanford researchers find culprit in aging muscles that heal poorly
2. Brain imaging reveals breakdown of normal emotional processing
3. Clarity Imaging International, Inc. Rolls Out Mobile DEXA Program
4. Oncologists are critical in managing psychiatric disorders in patients with advanced cancer
5. Fry Construction Selected for High-Profile Medical Imaging Project
6. September is Healthy Aging Month
7. The era of global aging: GSAs annual meeting to present new research on hot topics in aging
8. Elbit Medical Imaging Ltd. Announces Publication of a Prospectus in Israel
9. U.S. Health Initiative Targets Aging Hispanics
10. Ultrasonix Adds Global Medical Imaging Into Its North American Sales Force
11. Imaging Software Helps Track, Treat Injured Brains
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Aging Brains Get Out of Sync
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... 29, 2016 , ... Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer. Although only about 1 ... skin cancer deaths. More than 10,000 people are expected to die of melanoma this year. ... is the one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in young women. A recent breakthrough ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Reltok Nasal Products proudly announces that Boston ... and neck/ear, nose and throat specialty, has added the KOTLER NASAL AIRWAY™ to its ... is a newly patented safety device secured by nasal surgeons onto the floor ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... ... Dairy Products, Inc. in an upcoming episode, airing third quarter 2016 via Discovery ... churning cream into butter, Grassland Dairy Products, located in Greenwood, Wisconsin applies product ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... The infertility specialists at HRC Fertility/Orange County ... Dr. Daniel A. Potter -- are proud of the recent release of their 2014 ... April, SART published the latest verified data for 375 U.S. member clinics. ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... 29, 2016 , ... International Dehydrated Foods, Inc. (IDF™) will attend and sponsor ... the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Oak Brook, Illinois. The two-day event is the ... protein ingredients. , At the seminar, IDF™ will offer samples of its Savory ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... , Net Sales of $1.90 billion represent an increase ... period, and an increase of 1.2% on an adjusted pro ... first quarter were $0.52 reported, a decrease of 47.5% from ... 29.9% over the prior year period , The Company ... Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. (NYSE and SIX: ZBH) ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... April 28, 2016  ValGenesis, Inc., the ... Solutions (VLMS) today announced that a prominent ... sufferers of chronic kidney failure has selected ... their corporate validation process. The global medical ... solution to manage their validation processes electronically. ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , Schweiz, April 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... des Sachs CEO Forums in Zürich gab ... ihres führenden Wirkstoffkandidaten STR001 zur Erhaltung des ... eingesetzt wurde, bekannt. Für die umfassende Phase-II-Doppelblindstudie ... und Frankreich angeworben. STR001 wird während der ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: