Navigation Links
The aging brain is more malleable than previously believed
Date:8/1/2012

There is growing evidence that, beyond what was previously believed, the adult human brain is remarkably malleable and capable of new feats -- even in the last decades of life.

In fact, new experiences can trigger major physical changes in the brain within just a few days, and certain conditions can accelerate this physical, chemical and functional remodeling of the brain.

"We used to think that the brain was completely formed by development and its basic structure didn't change much in adults, but as research went on we discovered that wasn't true, at least in the cerebral cortex," explains Randy Bruno, a member of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University. "We now know that an underlying portion of the brain called the thalamus, which feeds the cortex information from our senses, is also remarkably plastic."

Change can also happen quickly. Using new research techniques on rats, Bruno's lab has found that the neuronal connections bridging the thalamus to the cortex are not only massively plastic, but they grow and retract rather rapidly in only a few days in response to different sensations. "The rapidity of this growth is really strikingit happens within just three days, which is something nobody in the past thought was possible. Those kinds of rapid physical changes also probably occur in other parts of the brain as well."

In fact, certain conditions accelerate this physical, chemical and functional remodeling of the brain. Said Michael Merzenich, Emeritus Professor at the Keck Center for Integrative Neurosciences at the University of California at San Francisco, and Director and founder of the Brain Plasticity Institute, "In our experiments in adult rats, changes only occurred when the animal was attentive within a rewarded learning environment. When we train the animals to improve their behavioral capabilities under near-optimal contextual conditions, we can drive easily recordable functional and physical changes in the cerebral cortex within a day or two. By contrast, little or no change is induced by the passive exposure of an animal to many days of stimulation with thousands of the same stimuli applied in training."

At the same time, there are limitations that come with age. "There is no evidence that there is any part of the adult brain that is not plastic," said Randy Nudo, Director of the Landon Center on Aging and Professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Kansas. "But studies indicate that some aspects of musical training, such as the ability to perceive temporal patterns, require the brain to be trained during early developmental periods when its primed for certain types of stimuli. For other aspects of musical development, such as the ability to perceive and repeat a sequence of tones, it's irrelevant whether you've had that experience and training early in life."

All of this matters when considering the relationship between age and brain developmental disorders such as autism, Down's syndrome, and dyslexia. "The brain is plastic for life," said Merzenich. "The fundamental thing that determines how much [persons with brain disorders] will improve is the level of their initial impairment, but not their age."


'/>"/>
Contact: James Cohen
cohen@kavlifoundation.org
The Kavli Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Difficult to diagnose cases of infectious endocarditis solved with SPECT/CT imaging agent
2. Concussions and head impacts may accelerate brain aging
3. Imaging Tests Up Among Advanced Cancer Patients
4. Diagnostic imaging increases among stage IV cancer patients on Medicare
5. ACR: Medical imaging study in health affairs incomplete and potentially misleading
6. Hundreds of random mutations in leukemia linked to aging, not cancer
7. Alcohol May Not Be Kind to the Aging Brain
8. Efficacy of herbal remedies for managing insomnia
9. Fighting obesity with thermal imaging
10. Study shows how aging impairs immune response
11. Exercise Can Shield the Aging Brain, Studies Show
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... An educational campaign aimed at everyone ... courtesy of awareness-driven celebrities and thought leaders. It also provides insight to the ... leaders such as Bioness. , As patients feel increasingly concerned about the ...
(Date:5/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 27, 2016 , ... Aimed at ... human interest stories, which come courtesy of leaders in the nursing and health care ... from leading advocates and associations—namely Abilene Christian University. , As the nursing industry ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... There are many ways to cook a ... (NHDSC) suggests that Americans prefer their dogs straight off the grill. Of the 90 ... their favorite way to cook a hot dog, far outpacing other cooking methods such ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... Atlanta, Georgia (PRWEB) , ... May 26, 2016 ... ... a certificate in intellectual property (IP) to its specialty academic programs. , Answering ... joins the college’s existing certificate programs in health law, and environmental and land ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... a significant negative impact on long-term patient survival, reports a team of UPMC ... online this week in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, provide critical ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2016)... 2016 TARE (Transarterial Radio-embolization) ... Savings and Overall Decreased Use of Hospital ... international specialist healthcare company, has today announced the ... Meeting of ISPOR (International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and ... (HCC) using yttrium-90 glass microspheres is associated with ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... FDA 510(k) clearance covers ... for urological and surgical applications Mauna ... Cellvizio®, the multidisciplinary confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) platform, ... US with the 12 th 510(k) clearance ... This new FDA clearance covers Confocal Miniprobes indicated ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... , Germany and GERMANTOWN, ... QIAGEN N.V. (NASDAQ: QGEN ; Frankfurt Prime Standard: ... licensing and co-development agreement with Therawis Diagnostics GmbH to develop ... be to develop and market PITX2 as a marker to ... high-risk breast cancer patients. "We are pleased to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: