Research Reveals New Insights Into the Aging Brain
From genes to circuits: factors that influence cognitive decline
CHICAGO — Research released today provides valuable new insights into how the brain ages. From genes to proteins, from cells to circuits, subtle deficits can lead to declines in cognitive abilities. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2015, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
While Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related brain disorders lead to major neural deficits, brain function also declines in healthy aging adults. Understanding both pathological and “normal” age-related brain changes will aid researchers in developing therapies and preventive measures against cognitive declines in the world’s rapidly aging population.
Today’s new findings show that:
- Bone marrow transplants from young mice improve age-related declines in brain structure and function in older mice (Melanie Das, abstract 370.03 see attached summary).
- In aged rats, a brain area that regulates emotion and decision-making demonstrates enhanced responses to unexpected reward (Rachel Samson, abstract 179.03, see attached summary).
- Measurements of electromagnetic activity in the human brain suggest that network connectivity changes with age and this influences cognitive performance (Matthias Treder, abstract 401.04, see attached summary).
- Newly identified genes in mice may underlie cognitive decline in both Alzheimer’s disease-affected brains and normal aging brains (Catherine Kaczorowski, abstract 377.06, see attached summary).
“Today, the global population is aging at a rate unprecedented in history, and researchers are desperately working to find ways to minimize the impact of age-related declines in brain function,” said moderator Carol Barnes, PhD, director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Institute at the University of Arizona and a leader in the field of aging research. “The research presented today takes major steps toward understanding the blood-born factors, genes, and circuits within the brain that influence cognition in aging and provides the foundation for future treatments and preventive measures aimed at protecting brain function late in life.” Barnes is also an author of one of the presented studies (abstract 179.03).
This research was supported by national funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private and philanthropic organizations. Find out more information about the aging brain at BrainFacts.org.