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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 1 - Introduction


Our brains are continuously changing and these changes alter brain functions. With maturation, there is growth and unfortunately, even with healthy aging, decline. Aging-related decrements affect neurons and their connectivity, neurotransmitter systems, and even support systems such as glia. Aging affects some brain regions (frontal lobes and hippocampi) more than others. This book reviews and discusses aging-related changes and their influence on the major neurobehavioral domains, beginning with reviews of aging-related changes in anatomy and physiology. Subsequent chapters review cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of aging-related changes in sensory perception (vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste) and cognitive functions (memory, language, motor planning, attention, executive functions, emotions, creativity). In each chapter, mechanisms that may account for these changes are discussed. Declines related to aging per se are distinguished from declines related to aging-associated diseases. Final chapters discuss what can potentially be done to slow or reverse aging-related decline of cognitive functions, including exercise, cognitive rehabilitation, and pharmacological agents. It is hoped this book will help clinicians differentiate between normal aging processes and brain diseases, reduce the adverse effects of brain aging, and stimulate further research on how adverse effects of brain aging can be reversed, stopped, modified, or best managed.