Our Brain & Old Age

As we get older, old age has certain failing mind-body faculties related to seeing, hearing, physical agility, and mental acuity. However, old age also brings accumulated knowledge that adds to our wisdom. Brain research now indicates that there is “life-long brain plasticity.” (Goldberg, 2005) Even in old age our brain can rewire itself. Even in old age we can challenge our brain. Old age doesn’t have to be about dotardism, caducity, or being weak-minded. What was once thought impossible is the growth and development of new synaptic connections even at an older age. Brain decline is either from disease or the brain is not being used —> “use it or lose it.” For some individuals old age can lead to atrophy with non-brain usage. The brain that is not used (at any age) can be frozen with few new brain connections being made. According to neurologist Richard Restak, “the brain never wears out;  it gets better the more we use it;  it changes in structure and function throughout our lives. As a consequence of this plasticity we sculpt our brain according to our life experiences.” (2009) What research is starting to investigate is the advent of those superagers who are not just living longer, but are engaged with life and are  performing and functioning productivity well into their late 70’s,  80’s, 90’s and beyond.  This research confirms that an, “old dog can learn new tricks.”

human brain and old age